In today’s world, people have more wireless devices - and those devices require more bandwidth - than ever before. As wireless needs increase, core Wi-Fi® technologies have continued to advance to keep pace with increasing user demands and to improve the overall mobility experience. In 2013, Wi-Fi Alliance® took Wi-Fi performance to new heights with the launch of its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac program, bringing wider channels, higher encoding density, increased spatial streams, and beamforming to devices – all while breaking the gigabit barrier for Wi-Fi speeds for the first time.
Since the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac launch, our members have been evaluating the market, and collaborating in Wi-Fi Alliance to determine which advanced features should be added to the certification program to deliver the best user experience as the technology continues to evolve. New performance-enhancing features chosen for certification will enable Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac to bring even more benefits to certified devices, with improvements in overall network efficiency, and data rate advancements that will take the industry into an era of multi-gigabit Wi-Fi. The cumulative benefits will enable Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac to elegantly handle today’s demanding applications, while continuing to meet the needs of products and services yet to come.
The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac certification program will be updated and publicly announced in 2016.
New feature highlights planned for the updated certification:
“Multitasking” networks: Among the most anticipated new features of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac is multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO). MU-MIMO enables simultaneous communication to multiple devices. Essentially, this feature will allow your network to “multitask,” enabling an access point to simultaneously send data to multiple devices rather than just one device at a time. The overall benefit is improved network efficiency and increased overall network throughput. As consumers begin integrating a mix of certified devices into their networks, it’s important to note that not every device on the network needs to have MU-MIMO for the network to see its benefits. This is because a MU-MIMO access points can switch between serving “groups” of clients simultaneously, and serving legacy devices individually, which boosts the overall network performance. MU-MIMO is an optional feature, but we expect nearly all vendors to support it.
Evolutionary data rates: Faster data rates are possible with Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac when channel size is doubled from 80 MHz to 160 MHz channels and the number of spatial streams increases from 3 to 4. The industry often compares channel size and spatial streams using the highway example: there are even more lanes on the highway and those lanes are even wider to accommodate more traffic.
More efficient use of 5 GHz: Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac operates in 5 GHz, where it makes use of increased bandwidth to achieve a higher data rate. Extended 5 GHz channel support is a new feature that offers improved performance in 5 GHz by providing additional channel options when establishing a network. This feature increases balanced usage of the available spectrum. As adoption of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac devices increases, 5 GHz will increasingly carry its share of data traffic. Since most devices will also support 2.4 GHz, dual-band devices and networks are becoming the norm to deliver high-capacity, high-performance connectivity to homes, enterprises, and hotspots.
A full list of new features and benefits will be made available at the time of the certification program launch.
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