The new generation of wireless technology is here in the form of 802.11ac. Although it has been around since 2013, the adoption rates are still a little low for our liking. The hang up hasn’t been the 802.11ac router itself, but the technology that we already have that really can’t benefit from the faster speeds. Although 802.11ac is backwards compatible with 802.11n, your device needs an 802.11ac wireless adapter to explore the web at the speeds it boasts.
The truth is, we will all need to be upgraded to 802.11ac eventually so why wait? Your devices will still connect albeit not as fast as they potentially could if they had the compatible wireless adapter. That being said, basic speed isn’t the only thing, the range of 802.11ac is also a reason to switch.
What 802.11ac offers the same long distance as 802.11n, but at a consistently higher speed, meaning you get a clearer signal even if you’re further away. What makes 802.11ac different is the way it broadcasts the signal through Beamforming. Beamforming detects where connected devices are and increases signal strength specifically in their direction.
According to Gordon Kelly, all this means the performance of 802.11ac is “maintained far better at long range than 802.11n. Peak performance may be tripled, but at range 5-10x the speed benefits are not unusual and this is where 802.11ac comes into its own. Some numbers for example:
- 11ac at one metre: 90MBps, 10 metres: 70MBps and at 20 metres behind two solid walls: 50MBps
- 11n at one metre: 30MBps, 10 metres: 20MBps and at 20 metres behind two solid walls: 5-10MBps
The most frustrating thing enterprises go through when deciding to switch to 802.11ac is the devices. Why switch when the devices can’t keep up? You can’t exactly go out and buy all of your employees new wireless adapters and mobile devices just because you switched to 802.11ac. However employees will eventually need those new devices, and when they get them, your wireless speed will shoot up without you having to scramble to get it installed later on.
Get a free 2015 Solutions Review 802.11ac Buyer’s Guide to see how all the top 802.11ac solutions stack up.