EDN (September 09, 2014)
IEEE 802.11ac has a lot to add to the wireless family. It brings a significant improvement over 802.11n. What are the differences between 802.11n and 802.11ac?
802.11n uses a system called MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) to transmit multiple spatial streams to another device that implements 11n. This is accomplished by using spatial multiplexing, a technique used in wireless MIMO technology to transmit multiple data streams simultaneously.
With MIMO technology, 802.11n devices could reach a maximum theoretical data rate of 600 (Mbits/s). 802.11ac outlines the use of eight spatial streams, which has a theoretical data rate of 6933.3 Mbits/s. This is a huge boost over 802.11n because it allows for gigabit speeds over wireless. These are, of course, the best case rates. Most 802.11n devices will perform at 405.0-450.0 Mbits/s because vendors typically only implement up to three spatial streams. In 802.11ac, three spatial streams will perform at about 2106-2340 Mbits/s, which still represents a large increase over 802.11n.
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