802.11ac Wireless Devices Starting to Show Up
A brief overview of the new 802.11ac standard for wireless networks:
802.11ac is “a faster and more scalable version of 802.11n,” according to a Cisco whitepaper on the subject. It’s designed to offer wireless speeds of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second. That’s more than double the bandwidth of the current standard, 802.11n. On the scalability front, it allows for up to eight multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) streams and multi-user MIMO. 802.11n, the standard we’ve been using for a few years now, stopped at four streams.
It also utilizes a technique called beamforming, which directs a concentrated wireless signal to a specific area — in this case, the 802.11ac wireless device you’re using. In order for beamforming to work, you need a router or base station that supports it, and a device capable of talking to the router.
Photo of Apple’s new Airport Extreme via iFixit.