What to Expect from 802.11ac
The new technologies that will make up the final IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard are extensions of the physical-layer wireless techniques pioneered in 802.11n. These extensions include the use of multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver to exploit Multiple Input/Multiple Output (MIMO) for parallel delivery of multiple spatial streams. Although consumer and residential Wi-Fi applications are a primary focus for these 802.11ac technologies, they will also have a considerable impact on enterprise wireless LANs (WLANs). 802.11ac increases the amount of wireless bandwidth in a cell, allowing a single access point (AP) to serve the same number of Wi-Fi clients with greater per-client throughput. Alternatively, a single AP will serve more Wi-Fi clients with the same throughput. This is a crucial capability in environments that serve high densities of Wi-Fi clients, such as lecture halls, conference centers,stadiums and other large public venues. The trend toward more antennas - from small devices like tablets and smartphones to larger APs packed with more than four antennas - will make MIMO and beamforming more prevalent than ever and vastly improve the reliability of Wi-Fi connections. Consequently, it will be easier to provide Wi-Fi coverage around physical obstructions like elevator shafts and stair wells. These features also deliver signal range improvements and signifcantly increase the reliability of wireless connections.