The January 2014 approval of the new IEEE 802.11ac wireless standard will help to accelerate the introduction of networking devices able to deliver gigabit and near-gigabit Wi-Fi speed. Products supporting 802.11ac are now the fastest growing wireless segment. By year’s end, it is expected to represent nearly half of all consumer Wi-Fi equipment shipments, and will likely surpass the current generation's market leading 802.11n standard within 12 to 18 months based on current usage trends. *
With the need for ubiquitous data connectivity in the business world growing each day, Wi-Fi is uniquely positioned among new technologies and competing standards to meet this enormous demand. One significant benefit of 802.11ac is less interference as the new standard operates on the less crowded 5GHz band compared to earlier generation access points (APs) and clients that use 802.11n at 2.4 GHz. This also allows an increased number of clients supported by each access point.
The increased bandwidth and greater throughput offered by 802.11ac are achieved using denser modulation (up to 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) as compared to 64QAM used for 802.11n), channel binding to double channel width at the new mandatory 80 MHz—with a 160 MHz option (compared to the 40 MHz maximum of 802.11n), support for up to eight multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) spatial streams--double the number in 802.11n, and the new multi-user MIMO technology.
Increased speed, in excess of one gigabit per second and at least 500 megabits per second for a single link throughput on a multi-station WLAN, also means faster performance for file downloads and e-mail syncing, another performance advantage of 802.11ac.
The latest networking devices that support the Fifth Generation Wi-Fi deliver superior stream management and performance including a higher number of parallel HD video streams. Popular activities like photo sharing and streaming movies are faster and smoother when products employ the newly ratified 802.11ac technologies.
Let's look at five real-life scenarios.
With three PCs, four notebooks, a couple of tablets, and five smartphones, an 802.11ac HD Media Router enables each user to access content at a rate up to three times faster than 802.11n routers. This excellent user experience is achieved with the creation of a dual-band wireless network that optimizes HD media and Web browsing, whether from a desktop, notebook, tablet, smartphone, or any other Wi-Fi ready devices including set top box and game consoles in the living room. Furthermore, a dual-band extender could extend existing Wi-Fi to give a home full wireless coverage and enable better HD streaming experience.
With five PCs, six notebooks and tablets, and each employee using the latest smartphone, a dual-band wireless USB adapter that supports 802.11ac improves productivity and efficiency. Workers save time on daily activities like file downloads and email synchronization thanks to the higher bandwidth and increased throughput performance. This marked improvement in airtime efficiency is a boon for this small office with a single AP.
With high-subscriber density, including a heavily used 3G network, a wireless AC UMTS small cell CPE is the ideal solution for ISPs that want to allow subscribers access to a wide variety of services and applications, both indoors and outdoors. The 802.11ac radio provides broadband access for all kinds of mobile devices including 3G cellular, Wi-Fi client, and Wi-Fi/3G dual-mode. To mitigate issues with intermittent Macro BTS capacity and Quality of Service outage due to traffic overloading, both voice calls and mobile data from home mobile devices can be easily offloaded to the existing home broadband network, enabling operators to deliver the best services for residential and roaming users simultaneously.
With a coverage area that reaches tens of thousands of subscribers, a dual band wireless AC/N VDSL2 VoIP Combo WAN Gigabit IAD significantly upgrades speed, performance, and network flexibility. Support for Vectoring technology eliminates cross-talk or interference among different VDSL lines and raises bit rates comparable to cable and fiber technology as well as enlarging the service coverage area without incurring costly infrastructure changes. The 802.11ac technology provides stable, reliable wireless connections for high-speed and multimedia usages with data rates up to 1.3Gps.
* These findings are part of ABI Research's Broadband CPE and Wi-Fi Research Services.