My first "Wi-Fi" experience was in the 80s when I used a microwave dish to send a T1, 1.544 Mbps, connection from one building to another at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
. We've come a long way since then. But, even with 802.11ac
, we've yet to crack the 1 Gigabit per second wall. Now, with the just standardized 802.11ac wave 2
, we may finally break the Gbps barrier.
Sure, in a lab you can't already get 1 Gbps speeds. But most of us don't work in labs. We work in the real world.
The best performance I've ever seen using my Linksys EA9200 tri-band router
with a Broadcom 5G XStream Wi-Fi chip and the latest firmware is 700Mbps. Good, but not as good as the Gigabit throughput I get over the wire off my Netgear ProSAFE Gigabit switches
802.11ac wave 2 looks like it might set a new speed record. Wave 2 brings to the table the following features, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance
- MU-MIMO: Networks with MU-MIMO are capable of multitasking by sending data to multiple devices at once rather than one-at-a-time, improving overall network efficiency and throughput
- 160 MHz channels: 802.11ac wave 2 increases the maximum channel bandwidth from 80 MHz channels to 160 MHz channels, potentially doubling transmission speeds
- Four spatial streams: Device speeds are proportional to the number of spatial streams. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac now includes support for four spatial streams, up from three spatial streams.
- Extended 5 GHz channel support: 802.11ac wave 2 encourages device support for a greater number of available channels in 5 GHz. Support for additional channels makes more efficient use of available spectrum and reduces interference and congestion by minimizing the number of networks operating on overlapping channels.