WiFi is something we all rely on and even though in the real world using ethernet cables in the home is much faster, this isn’t always practical and with smartphones and tablets – impossible. So this is why managing your home network and your wireless side important as interference, crowded channels and old routers using out of date wireless protocols can be your bottleneck for speed. 802.11ac debuted around 3 years ago in draft form and various vendors adopted the technology including Apple’s AirPort Extreme which supposedly is still on the first draft spec. Later in 2013 the Wi-Fi alliance (the body which invents new versions of 802.11) announced the first Wave of 802.11ac and now this week they have come out with the second wave of the standard.
With 802.11ac Wave 2, it really takes a big jump in performance. It offers double the potential throughput per channel and an wider 5Ghz channels, now expanding to 160Mhz channels which in practice uses two 80Mhz channels at the same time. Also MU-MIMO makes it debut, allowing multiple devices to communicate with the router or wireless APs at the same time, rather than using time slots.
Also most new AC routers may already have the hardware capable of supporting these new features, most of the new Netgear and Linksys routers may just need a firmware update to be fully compatible.
For the time being, according to a Ubiquiti employee the UniFi AP AC range are on 802.11ac Wave 1 until new models are released.
Does this mean more performance?
It depends. If the local wireless conditions are ideal then yes, if there is lots of routers in the houses of your neighbours it’s best to choose a channel which is less used by other people, it’s also worth noting that 160Mhz channels use a large section of the 5Ghz spectrum and very few devices even support it, so it’s probably best to stick with 20Mhz or 40Mhz channels for the time being.