Is 802.11 ac Ready and Are You Ready for It?

802.11 ac is the latest wireless networking standard, one that promises to deliver faster throughput and better range than 802.11 n. Currently, 802.11 n can deliver up to 450Mbps per band (2.4 and 5GHz) theoretically, for a total rate of 900Mbps. 802.11 ac is engineered to deliver 500 Mbps per band– or 1GBps total, with some vendors offering routers that can support up to a theoretical 1.3 GBps. The 802.11 ac standard has yet to be ratified by the IEEE although the Wi-Fi Alliance will begin certifying products for 802.11 ac in June of this year.

The pre-ratification status has not prevented a slew of 11ac wireless routers to hit the market. Top-tier consumer router vendors such as Netgear, Linksys, and D-Link have been shipping 802.11 ac products since end of last year. Even the smaller manufacturers either have an 802.11 ac router on the market or are about to release one.

If you are router shopping or considering an upgrade, you may want to contemplate an 802.11 ac device: I gave some advice to some friends:

The short story is this: An 802.11 ac router offers future-proofing against the emerging standard. You might also see some performance gains with some of the 802.11 ac routers on the market– provided you have the right wireless adapter.

Edimax’s AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router clocked the fastest throughput I’ve ever tested among routers. This killer speed was only obtained however, testing with Edimax’s accompanying 802.11 ac USB wireless adapter, the AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band USB Adapter. You’ll need an 802.11 ac adapter and one that supports USB 3.0 to eke out the best performance from an 802.11 ac router– at least until we see integrated 802.11 ac wireless adapters in mobile devices.

802.11 ac promises to offer better range than 802.11 ac. 802.11 n 5GHz offers more robust performance but shorter range. 802.11 ac operates on the 5GHz band, but is also designed to have good range. This also has easy set when calling tech support.