802.11ac: The Next Wireless Standard

802.11ac: Are you having trouble connecting to the future of wireless standards?

Businesses that are exploring deploying a wireless environment or updating their current equipment will more than likely be met with this new strange term - 802.11ac. Did we lose you already?

802.11ac is a new wireless standard and like everything else in the technology realm, wireless standards are ever changing. Let’s look at the timeline below:

1997 – The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) introduces the first wireless standard: 802.11.

Maximum bandwidth supported: 2mbps

Pros: It’s the first wireless standard, hooray!

Cons: Too slow for most applications today, but perfect during its time. 

1999 - The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) introduces 802.11b

Maximum bandwidth supported: 11mbps

Pros: Low cost and great signal range. Designed for home use.

Cons: Home appliances like microwaves or cordless phones which function on the 2.4GHz frequency can interfere with signal performance.

1999 - The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) introduces 802.11a

Maximum bandwidth supported: 54mbps

Pros: Works on 5GHz frequency. Designed for use in business networks.

Cons: Very high cost and shorter range due to the high frequency.

2002 – 802.11g products begin hitting the market.

Maximum bandwidth supported: 54mbps

Pros: Works on 2.4GHz frequency for greater range. Combines all the great qualities of 802.11a and 802.11b

Cons: Higher costs compared to 802.11b products. Interference issues due to 2.4GHz frequency

2009 – 802.11n is introduced.

Maximum bandwidth supported: 300mbps

Pros: Easily supports high bandwidth applications.

Cons: Just as susceptible to interference, in some instances, even more so.

2013-2014 – 802.11ac APs start seeing the light of day.

So what’s so special about 802.11ac and why do you need to be prepared for it? 

  • Maximum bandwidth throughput of 1.3Gbps. Ideal for high density environments.  

Such a high throughput is necessary for our data hungry society. Over 20x the throughput of 802.11n, bandwidth intensive applications will have no issue running smoothly, even in a BYOD environment. The ability to throughput such large amounts of data with no interference will change the way WiFi is used in industries such as hospitality, events, schools and MDUs. Imagine every student in a classroom being able to stream a lesson in HD on their own device, or every employee in a company being able to use a high bandwidth application on their personal machines.

  • Strictly 5Ghz

The majority of today’s new smartphones, laptops, and tablets are 5Ghz enabled. The 5Ghz frequency is unused for the most part so interference is not an issue. By establishing 5Ghz as the standard frequency for WiFi, companies that develop WiFi enabled technology will be forced to make the switch. 

  •  Beamforming

Access points using older wireless standards transmitted omnidirectional signals, creating a diameter of reach around the access point which could be accessed by WiFi enabled devices within that range. 802.11ac uses beamforming technology which understands the general location of the connected device and beams the signal directly at that device. By beamforming, the signal being sent to the device is concentrated and comparably stronger that a signal that’s just being dispersed in around the AP. Beamforming also helps address the weaker range of the 5Ghz frequency.

I’m not an expert, but Bill Kish, CTO of Ruckus Wireless is. Check out what he has to say about 802.1ac:


So should you be converting all your APs to 802.11ac? It wouldn’t be a bad idea. Most technology today won’t support 802.11ac anyway, however the technology of the future (2-3 years) will be designed specifically to work with 802.11ac. 802.11ac APs will be backwards compatible and will work under the 802.11a and 11n format.

Ruckus Wireless has an awesome Buy-Up promotion at the moment designed to help consumers get WiFi now, prepare for the future, and save money. Win-win if you ask me. 

1) Buy an eligible 802.11n

When: Between May 1st and the launch of the Ruckus 802.11ac AP

Eligible ZoneFlex 802.11n AP(s): ZoneFlex 7982, ZoneFlex 7372 or ZoneFlex 7363

2) Purchase a ZoneFlex 802.11ac AP for $499 within 90 days of launch, show proof of purchase for your eligible ZoneFlex 802.11n AP 

For more information about Ruckus’ Buy-Up program or just to chat about 802.11ac, please contact alex@gggroup.net


By: Alex Yakubov 


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