Fast Wi-Fi just makes life better – it’s a known fact.
You can have the fastest NBN in the world, but you need to be able to access it in every corner of your office.
To this end, you need a good Wi-Fi router. Today Wifi Technology is constantly on the improve. There is a technology called 802.11ac that enables compatible devices to connect on faster Wifi Speeds.
The big difference between 802.11ac and the older 802.11n Wi-Fi standard is in outright speed; where N routers seem to top out at a maximum of around 900Mbps theoretical throughput, we’re seeing new AC routers like the ASUS RT-AC3200 hit 2600Mbps – almost three times as fast.
802.11ac is a relatively new Wi-Fi standard, only having been ratified and approved in January of this year. 802.11ac was finalised in 2013 and you will find it in every major smartphone, laptop and desktop computer and smart television. It succeeds the equally-badly named ‘802.11n’ which has been around since 2007 and brings some major benefits.
What are the notable differences?
Speed, Range and Availability.
There are obvious performance benefits, particularly for single antenna devices like smartphones. Secondly it is more battery efficient because WiFi needs to be active for less time when data transfers can complete more quickly. Thirdly with proliferation comes scales of economy which bring down the price.
Furthermore 802.11n only supports up to four antennas at roughly 100Mbps (12.5MBps) each so when you do the maths for devices using 802.11n antennas the gap begins to widen.
Do Your Devices Support 802.11ac?
There’s not too much point in paying the extra for 802.11ac if you don’t have any devices that can take advantage of it. Of course, a Wi-Fi router is a long-term investment, so you should be planning for the future; an 802.11ac-capable router will also almost certainly provide better 802.11n Wi-Fi than the non-ac competition, purely through it being newer and more powerful.
802.11ac isn’t just about the router
When it comes to pricing most devices you buy have already integrated 802.11ac so you won’t be consciously paying more for it.
Where there is still a jump in price, however, is routers. Wireless AC routers still tend to have a 20-50% premium (depending on model), but as ageing routers risk becoming the speed and range bottleneck for every Internet connected item in your home these much neglected devices are worth a little more investment.
Chipsets featuring 802.11ac are fully backwards compatible with previous WiFi standards.
This means it works perfectly with 802.11a (introduced in 1999), 802.11b (2000), 802.11g (2003) and 802.11n (2007). The bad news is you will be limited to the performance of the older standard and will only get the full benefits of ‘Wireless AC’ or ‘AC WiFi’, as it is also known, if you are connecting from 802.11ac to 802.11ac. That means an 802.11ac router and an 802.11ac device.