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Your best 'Gigabit Wi-Fi' resources

By , Network World
October 07, 2013 06:01 AM ET

Network World - "Gigabit" Wi-Fi has reached a point where it's now being deployed by some early adopters. There are more 802.11ac resources – test data, anecdotal observations, hands-on experience – and more products than ever before.

WLAN vendors are announcing new 11ac access points. Device makers are building in 11ac radios. Equipment vendors are offering more adapters and dongles.

[ALSO: 802.11ac 'gigabit Wi-Fi' starts to show potential, limits]

Here’s a sampling of resources as of October 2013, from Network World, and other sites.

IN DEPTH: 11ac will be faster, but how much faster really? 

Our first enterprise-class 11ac access point tests, by Eric Geier: “Super-fast Wi-Fi: Cisco, Ubiquiti access points top out at nearly 400Mbps”  Products tested: Cisco's Aironet 3602I AP with the 802.11ac add-on module; Ubiquiti's UniFi AP AC. 11ac clients used: Edimax AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band USBAdapter (two-stream 802.11ac); ASUS AC1750 Dual-band Wireless PCI-E Adapter (three-stream 802.11ac).

Getting ready for gigabit Wi-Fi,” by consultant, and Network World blogger, Craig Mathias.

From February 2013, our tests of five earlier “consumer” grade 11ac routers, by Wayne Rash: a slideshow of the products,  “Real-world test: 802.11ac routers” and the detailed analysis, “Gigabit Wi-Fi? Not so fast.” 

More 11ac products are gaining Wi-Fi interoperability certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, which launched the branding program in June 2013. You can search their database for currently certified products.

Just checking the box labeled “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac (Based on IEEE 802.11ac D3.0)” yields 89 products as of Oct. 4, 2013. But these include reference designs and chipsets. You can filter by company, product type and other criteria. This isn’t a complete list of what’s on the market: if you search by “Apple,” there are no listed products, though Apple offers 11ac in Macbook Air laptops, and in AirPort Extreme Base Station access point and AirPort Time Capsule, a wireless hard drive. Check out PCMag’s review of the AirPort Extreme, by Samara Lynn.

802.11n products will remain the core of enterprise WLANs for some time to come. See our March 2012 Clear Choice Test, by Craig Mathias, of three-stream 11n access points: "Three-stream Wi-Fi hits the mark." Mathias has a sidebar on "What you need to know about 802.11ac" to give you some perspective on the relationship between the two.

AnandTech's Jarred Walton, in “The Joys of 802.11ac WiFi,” gives what he calls a “quick test of real-world wireless performance, comparing some 11ac and 11n clients and access points. Much depends on how well 11ac is implemented in the client (more than one spatial stream for example). Apple itself stumbled with the new 11ac Macbook Air, artificially limiting throughput apparently due to overlooking an issue OS X had with the TCP protocol stack, as noted by AnandTech’s Anand Lal Shimpi and by Ars Technica’s Andrew Cunningham (see his “OS X is holding back the 2013 MacBook Air’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds.”)  

Also check out AnandTech’s "5th Generation WiFi: 802.11ac, 'Gigabit' WiFi Primer" from January 2012.

Some details on 11ac beamforming: "Beamforming: 802.11ac promises great Wi-Fi enhancements, but you can get a jump today," by Bart Giordano, director of wireless marketing at Marvell Semiconductor

Recent 11ac product news

Aruba Networks latest to unveil 802.11ac access points 

Broadcom 11ac chipsets enable multiple, high-resolution in-car displays 

Asus RT-AC66U 802.11ac router review, at TrustedReviews.com

Amped Wireless 802.11ac line makes WiFi go faster and further, at TUAW.com

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww
Email: john_cox@nww.com

Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.

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