IEEE 802.11ac

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IEEE 802.11ac is a wireless networking standard in the 802.11 family (which is marketed under the brand name Wi-Fi), developed in the IEEE Standards Association process,[1] providing high-throughput wireless local area networks (WLANs) on the 5 GHz band.[1] The standard was developed from 2011 through 2013 and approved in January 2014.[1][2] According to a study, devices with the 802.11ac specification are expected to be common by 2015 with an estimated one billion spread around the world.[3]

This specification has expected multi-station WLAN throughput of at least 1 gigabit per second and a single link throughput of at least 500 megabits per second (500 Mbit/s). This is accomplished by extending the air interface concepts embraced by 802.11n: wider RF bandwidth (up to 160 MHz), more MIMO spatial streams (up to 8), multi-user MIMO, and high-density modulation (up to 256-QAM).[4]

New technologies[edit]

802.11ac is an example of a wireless network employing the Single Channel Architecture whereas previous generations of 802.11 were primarily using Multiple Channel Architecture.[5]

Mandatory and optional features[edit]

New scenarios and configurations[edit]

The single-link and multi-station enhancements supported by 802.11ac enable several new WLAN usage scenarios, such as simultaneous streaming of HD video to multiple clients throughout the home, rapid synchronization and backup of large data files, wireless display, large campus/auditorium deployments, and manufacturing floor automation.[6]

Example configurations[edit]

All rates assume 256-QAM, rate 5/6:

ScenarioTypical Client
Form Factor
PHY Link RateAggregate
1-antenna AP, 1-antenna STA, 80 MHzHandheld433 Mbit/s433 Mbit/s
2-antenna AP, 2-antenna STA, 80 MHzTablet, Laptop867 Mbit/s867 Mbit/s
1-antenna AP, 1-antenna STA, 160 MHzHandheld867 Mbit/s867 Mbit/s
2-antenna AP, 2-antenna STA, 160 MHzTablet, Laptop1.69 Gbit/s1.69 Gbit/s
4-antenna AP, four 1-antenna STAs, 160 MHz
Handheld867 Mbit/s to each STA3.39 Gbit/s
8-antenna AP, 160 MHz (MU-MIMO)
-- one 4-antenna STA
-- one 2-antenna STA
-- two 1-antenna STAs
Digital TV, Set-top Box,
Tablet, Laptop, PC, Handheld
3.39 Gbit/s to 4-antenna STA
1.69 Gbit/s to 2-antenna STA
867 Mbit/s to each 1-antenna STA
6.77 Gbit/s
8-antenna AP, four 2-antenna STAs, 160 MHz
Digital TV, Tablet, Laptop, PC1.69 Gbit/s to each STA6.77 Gbit/s

Data Rates / Speed[edit]

Theoretical throughput for single Spatial Stream (in Mb/s)
20 MHz channels40 MHz channels80 MHz channels160 MHz channels
800 ns GI400 ns GI800 ns GI400 ns GI800 ns GI400 ns GI800 ns GI400 ns GI

Note: A second stream doubles the theoretical data rate, a 3rd 3x, etc. Note: MCS 9 is not applicable to all channel width/spatial stream combinations


Commercial routers[edit]

Quantenna released the first 802.11ac chipset for retail Wi-Fi routers and consumer electronics on November 15, 2011.[7] Redpine Signals released the first low power 802.11ac technology for smartphone application processors on December 14, 2011.[8] On January 5, 2012, Broadcom announced its first 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips and partners[9] and on April 27, 2012, Netgear announced the first Broadcom-enabled router.[10] On May 14, 2012, Buffalo Technology released the world’s first 802.11ac products to market, releasing a wireless router and client bridge adapter.[11]

Apple Inc. is selling an 802.11ac version of their Airport Time Capsule.[12] Motorola Solutions is selling 802.11ac access points including the AP 8232.[13]

Commercial laptops[edit]

On June 7, 2012, it was reported that ASUS had unveiled its ROG G75VX gaming notebook, which will be the first consumer-oriented notebook to be fully compliant with 802.11ac[14] (albeit in its "draft 2.0" version).

Hewlett-Packard as of December 2013 incorporates 802.11ac compliance in laptop computers.[15]

Apple announced in June 2013 that the new MacBook Air features 802.11ac wireless networking capabilities,[16][17] later announcing in October 2013 that the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro also featured 802.11ac.[18][19]

Commercial handsets[edit]


VendorPart #StreamsLDPCTxBF256-QAMApplications
ANADIGICSAWL95811??NoFixed, mobile
Broadcom43603YesYesYesRouters, laptops
Intel7260 AC2??YesLaptops, Desktops
Intel3160 AC1???Laptops
MarvellAvastar 88W88972YesYesYesTablets
MarvellAvastar 88W88643YesYesYesRouters
MediaTekMT76101???PC (PCIe or USB)
MediaTekMT7612E2YesYesYesLaptops (PCIe 2.0)
MediaTekMT7612U2YesYesYesLaptops (USB 3.0)
Redpine SignalsRS91171Yes?YesHandsets
Redpine SignalsRS93333Yes?YesRouters
RealtekRTL8811AU1???Adapter (USB 2.0)
RealtekRTL8812AU2???Adapter (USB 3.0)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Official IEEE 802.11 Working Group Project Timelines". 2012-11-03. 
  2. ^ Kelly, Vivian (2014-01-07). "New IEEE 802.11ac™ Specification Driven by Evolving Market Need for Higher, Multi-User Throughput in Wireless LANs". IEEE. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  3. ^ Shankland, Stephen (2011-02-08). "Study: Expect a billion 802.11ac Wi-Fi devices in 2015". Cnet. 
  4. ^ Kassner, Michael (2013-06-18). "Cheat sheet: What you need to know about 802.11ac". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ de Vegt, Rolf (2008-11-10). "802.11ac Usage Models Document". 
  7. ^ "Quantenna Launches World's First 802.11ac Gigabit-Wireless Solution for Retail Wi-Fi Routers and Consumer Electronics" (Press release). Quantenna. 2011-11-15. 
  8. ^ "Redpine Signals Releases First Ultra Low Power 802.11ac Technology for Smartphone Application Processors" (Press release). Redpine Signals. 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  9. ^ "Broadcom Launches First Gigabit Speed 802.11ac Chips - Opens 2012 CES with 5th Generation (5G) Wi-Fi Breakthrough" (Press release). Broadcom. 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  10. ^ Netgear's R6300 router is first to use Broadcom 802.11ac chipset, will ship next month for $200
  11. ^ "Buffalo's 802.11ac Wireless Solutions Available Now" (Press release). Austin, Texas: Buffalo Technology (via PRNewswire). May 14, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  12. ^ Apple - Mac - Airport Express
  13. ^ AP 8232 Modular 802.11n Access Point - Motorola Solutions USA
  14. ^ "Asus gaming notebook first to feature full 802.11ac". Electronista. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2013-03-15. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "Apple unveils new MacBook Air lineup with all-day battery life, 802.11ac Wi-Fi". AppleInsider. 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  17. ^ Apple - Macbook Air
  18. ^ "MacBook Pro with Retina display - Technical Specifications". Apple. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "Mac Pro - Technical Specifications". Apple. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "HTC One specs". 
  21. ^ "BCM4335". 
  22. ^ "BCM4335". 
  23. ^ "LG Optimus G2". 
  24. ^ "Galaxy Round". 
  25. ^ "LG Nexus 5". 
  26. ^ "iFixIt Nexus 5 Teardown". 

External links[edit]