Advice from Middle Aged Female Tech
Hollyecho Montgomery -
Women's Computer Consulting
I have been in the industry with my own company since 1994. The entire time I have worked in this field there have been very few times any two techs ever agree completely. The advice I give here is based on my experiences, testing, and what I know works.
Today’s Subject: 802.11ac vs 802.11n - What’s the difference?
b, g, n, ac… wireless standards haven’t had the most logical of alphabetical progressions, but it has just had the most important.
Early in September 2013 the governing body the
This being said, WiFi signal strength ALWAYS goes down with distance and interference. If you have a well- built home, say 2000sqft, with proper insulated interior walls, that router will not broadcast the same speed, if to all, the corners of the house. With that our of the way, let me tell you about the new standard. (and for those luckily enough to have the ISP speeds of 25mb and better, this is for you !
Just like past
With any new wireless technology speed is always the
1.3gigabits per second (Gbps) is the speed most commonly cited as the 802.11ac standard. This translates to 166 megabytes per second (MBps) or 1331 megabits per second (Mbps). It is vastly quicker than the 450Mbit per second (0.45Gbps) headline speeds quoted on the highest performing 802.11n routers.
So wireless ac is roughly 3x as fast as wireless n? No.
These figures are ‘theoretical maximums’ that are never close to being realized in real world scenarios. In our experience wireless n performance tends to top off around
Happily this gain is likely to increase as 802.11ac devices advance. Wireless 802.11n supports a maximum of four antennas at roughly 100Mbit each, where 802.11ac can support up to eight antennas at over 400Mbit each.
Smaller devices like smartphones tend to fit only a single antenna, but it gets even bigger in tablets (typically two to four antennas) and laptops and televisions (four to eight). In addition no 802.11ac router released so far has packed more than six antennas.
A final point: beware routers claiming speeds of 1,750 Gigabits. It is a marketing ploy where the manufacturer has added the 1.3Gbit theoretical maximum speed of 802.11ac to the 450Mbit theoretical maximum speed of 802.11n. Sneaky.
While speed is what will likely sell 802.11ac routers, range is equally or in my eyes, more important. Here wireless ac excels.
The first point to make is the 802.11ac standard lives entirely in the 5GHz spectrum. While some more modern routers broadcast 802.11n in 5GHz as well as 2.4GHz they remain relatively rare.
Consequently, the 5GHz spectrum tends to be 'quiet', meaning much less interference from neighborhood Wi- Fi. This more than counters the fact that, in lab conditions, 5GHz signals do not actually broadcast as far as 2.4GHz signals. 5GHz is also necessary to support the faster speeds of wireless ac.
The second key factor is 802.11ac makes ‘beam forming’ a core part of its spec. Rather than throw out wireless signal equally in all directions, WiFi with beam forming detects where devices are and intensifies the signal in their direction(s).
This technology has been around in proprietary form (it made a huge impact in the
The combination of these two technologies is profound. This was most clearly seen with the Linksys EA6500 which hit speeds of 30.2MBps (241.6Mbit) when connecting to a device just 7 feet away, but still performed at 22.7MBps (181.6Mbit) when 45 feet away with two solid walls in the way. By contrast Linksys’ own EA4500 (identical except being limited to 802.11n) managed 10.6MBps (84.8Mbit) dropping to 2.31MBps (18.48Mbit) under the same conditions.
The real world result is 802.11ac not only enables you to enjoy the fastest 100Mbit (and beyond) fiber optic
broadband speeds all over the house, but to enjoy it along with multiple streams of Full HD content, super low latency gaming and blazing fast home networking all at the same time.
Here comes the first caveat. The announcement of the
Of course some manufacturers have jumped the gun. The 802.11ac that were tested were sold as ‘Draft 802.11ac’ products and while many may become certified through a firmware update, it is not guaranteed. Draft 802.11ac products are also not guaranteed to perform optimally with other Draft 802.11ac products - especially between different manufacturers. Certified products are.
The good news is the first certified chipsets are already creeping out and they come from the likes of Intel, Qualcomm, Cisco, Realtek, Marvell, Broadcom and Samsung - manufacturers with extensive networking expertise and who licence their chipsets to others. For example Intel has only one chipset certified - the ‘Dual band Wireless 7260’ - but it is expected to be at the heart of most
Furthermore, adoption should be fast. The first 802.11ac routers carried a hefty premium, but this has dropped quickly to the point where price shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone keen to hop onto the bandwagon. In addition 802.11ac is extremely efficient and it brings power savings compared to 802.11n, meaning it is ideal for mobile devices. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Mega phones already pack wireless ac.
As such, while 802.11ac products are only trickling out at present, it will turn into a tidal wave by early 2014.
So there you are. As I said early in this article, this will only effect those who are lucky enough to be an area where 25mb download from their ISP is available – OR
Again, if you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to email me! I answer all questions to the best of my ability. I am always about saving money and not spending it on things you don't need to.
Remember ANY questions, Email me at: Montgomery@Hollyecho.com.