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Why 802.11ac Wave 2? Speed and Capacity

by Robert Ferruolo (Dr. RF) on Jun 22, 2016

WiFi, like walkie-talkies, uses a shared medium. Only one device can effectively transmit at a time. When two people talk on walkie-talkies at the same time, neither is understood. The serial nature (one transmission at a time) limits the capacity of the channel. Capacity can be increased by having users talk faster, or by compressing what is said by using abbreviations for words or phrases. (OMG, this blog post has TMI!)

More Speed = More Capacity

As WiFi has transitioned from a “nice-to-have” to a business necessity, capacity demands have increased: more users, more devices per user, and more high-bandwidth applications. WiFi has met the increased capacity demands primarily by increasing speed. Better modulation techniques, wider channels, higher data rates, and more spatial streams are all ways of sending data faster. A byproduct of this increased speed is that an AP can support more users.

Then came Wave 2.


802.11ac Wave 2 expands from single-user MIMO (SU-MIMO) to multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO). MU-MIMO takes the data to be sent, breaks it into multiple chunks, and sends those chunks to the receiver in parallel, instead of serially. The same amount of data is sent in a fraction of the time. Brilliant!

Wave 2 with MU-MIMO is the first time the capacity of a WiFi AP has been increased by a means other than simply more speed. (Although, it also increased speed!)


Why is this Important?

Demands of WiFi networks continue to increase, with no signs of letting up. Here are some of the challenges for specific use cases:

  • Enterprise – Moving to no-wire offices with more reliance on collaboration tools
  • K-12 – Tablet-based curriculums that use high-resolution video learning
  • Higher Ed – Students get the latest tech and demand performance

As WiFi has gone from a convenience to a necessity, the only way to meet future demands is with 802.11ac Wave 2. Luckily for you, Mojo Networks offers the C-120, a top-performing Wave 2 access point. And coming soon, the C-130.

Topics: WiFi Access, MU-MIMO, Wave 2