Wireless AC, the latest technology innovation, is currently displacing Wireless N. Consumer adoption is ramping up on all continents and significant business adoption is expected in 2014. As with the launch of previous new wireless technologies, end users have questions when it comes to performance, compatibility, and efficiency.
The biggest advantage of Wireless AC is the incredible speeds it offers. The highest performing routers on the market today offer wireless speeds as high as an astounding 1,300 megabits per second (Mbps). Keep in mind the full Wireless AC specification can accommodate speeds as high as 6.9 Gigabits per second (Gbps), so even faster routers will launch to market down the road.
Two other key Wireless AC technologies improve performance. Multi-User MIMO or MU-MIMO gives the router the ability to communicate with multiple users simultaneouslya big advantage in a busy wireless environment. Wireless N routers can only communicate with one user at a time. The second technology, Beam forming, directs the strongest wireless signal to your particular location resulting in measure throughput increases.
Conversely users need to be aware of two product disadvantages. The first is that Wireless AC is not compatible with Wireless N. This simple fact will create connectivity issues during the transition to Wireless AC. With the goal of reducing connectivity conflicts, all Wireless AC routers for the next few years will be dual band with both Wireless AC and Wireless N networks. The second issue is that the wireless range for Wireless AC is slightly lower than that of Wireless N. This is due to the fact that the 5 GHz band (that of wireless AC) has a slightly harder time penetrating building materials.
Lets talk terminology. Simply understanding the speed rating of wireless AC products can be difficult. Since routers are dual band, it consists of adding both the AC and N speeds together. For example, anAC1750ratedproduct is comprised of a 1,300 Mbps AC network and a 450 Mbps N network (1300 +450 = AC1750. Similarly, AC1200 routers offer an 866 Mbps AC band (rounded up to 900 of simplicity) and a 300 Mbps N band.
Partners often ask: Why would consumers or businesses adopt Wireless AC when internet connection speeds are low? Well, Wireless N is widely adopted and its speeds far exceed most internet connection speeds today. Similar to that of Wireless N, the tipping point for Wireless AC is not internet connection speeds. Its when tablets, mobile devices, and other products ship with embedded Wireless AC. Over the next two years we will see an incredible volume of connected devices on the market with embedded Wireless AC, thereby driving the demand for Wireless AC networks.
Wireless AC solutions are currently priced significantly higher than Wireless N solutions. However, as the market matures, Wireless AC pricing will decline and eventually match Wireless N.
Author is Country Manager, TRENDnet
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