Raising the WiFi Standard: 802.11ac

Posted by Kate Clavet, Content Marketing Specialist on Nov 17, 2016
Kate Clavet, Content Marketing Specialist

Do you remember the sound of dial-up while painfully waiting for a computer to connect to the Internet? Or when all devices required a wired connection? In the mid-1990s when the Internet first hit the “mainstream” the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standards had just barely established the 802.11 standard and dial up was considered an innovative technology. Now, a quarter century later the way we use the Internet is completely different and the original 802.11 standard is a legacy.

In 2016, almost every device is WiFi enabled and ultra-portable. There are even WiFi connected cars, shoes, and refrigerators on the market. With the explosion of WiFi devices the demand for faster and stronger networks rose; density is more of a concern over range. The 802.11n (802.11ac’s predecessor), first introduced in 2009, could no longer keep up nor handle the flood of devices demanding WiFi.


At any given time, a person could be traveling with up to 8 connected devices all needing WiFi (mobile phone, laptop, tablet, MP3 player etc.) The older 802.11n standard uses 2.4Ghz, which is also used for Cordless Phones, DECT phones, Bluetooth, and car alarms, just to name a few. With so many connected devices trying to use the same channel, the infrastructure gets bogged down and cannot handle the density— just like a bunch of cars trying to drive through the same busy street. Thus the Internet becomes slow and unreliable. The IEEE was already working to pass a newer standard and in 2013 it introduced the 802.11ac, chock full of improvements for faster Internet.

Backwards Compatibility 
One of the benefits of 802.11ac is that the chipsets are backwards compatible, so if all of your equipment uses 802.11n but your router or access point is 802.11ac, everything can still work together. This also means that you will be limited to 802.11n quality Internet. The only way to enjoy 802.11ac is if all of your devices are using 802.11ac.

Less Crowded Frequency 
802.11ac uses the 5Ghz frequency so it’s not competing with microwaves, cordless house phones and endless wireless devices. Less crowding means more efficiency and speed.

Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) 
MIMO (pronounced, mee-mo) is an antenna technology used for wireless communication. This type of antenna allows an access point or router to transmit and receive signals at the same time. Cellphones are typically 1x1 MIMO devices meaning that they send and receive data via a single stream, most computers are 2x2 MIMO. Grandstream’s GWN7610 (access points) are 3x3 MIMO meaning there are three streams sending and receiving signals simultaneously. This technology is beneficial in an environment that is dense with connected devices, the more streams the less congestion. Much like, filling up a pool with water, one hose will still work but at a slower speed. If you added two, or three hoses the speed of filling would increase significantly.

With all the technical advances of 802.11ac over 802.11n the take away is that you can count on faster, more reliable performance from 802.11ac devices as compared to 802.11n. That’s why Grandstream developed the GWN series where you can enjoy all of these features and more using the GWN7610 access point. To learn more about Grandstream's debut into the WiFi market and our recently released AP click here.





Topics: Security, WiFi