The Wi-Fi alliance has been working on the specification for the Wi-Fi 802.11 AC wireless standard, announcing Wave 2 of the spec to improve transmission speeds to multiple users in a world where more devices are using wireless.
The basis of the update is improved multi-user transmission, or Multi-user Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO). This allows for transmission of data to multiple devices at once, rather than one at a time in previous MIMO implementations. The new Wi-Fi AC spec also increases the maximum channel bandwidth from 80 MHz channels to 160 MHz channels which potentially doubles the transmission speeds.
As well as increasing speeds and the amount of users receiving data, the improved Wi-Fi AC spec adds an additional spatial stream to the three existing streams. There’s room to move in future with Wi-Fi AC capable of using more streams but at this stage, Wave 2 only supports four in total.
Finally, the new spec also improves 5GHz support. The new 5GHz support, the Wi-Fi Alliance says that the additional channels makes ‘more efficient use of available spectrum and reduces interference and congestion by minimizing the number of networks operating on overlapping channels’.
Speaking about the Wave 2 Wireless AC spec, Andrew Zignani, research analyst, ABI Research said
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac gives users a greater experience in dense environments by maximizing Wi-Fi network resources, providing a richer set of features, and enabling the full potential of the technology. Wi-Fi Alliance assists in the proliferation of certified products into the market, and we expect an increasing number of data-intensive devices to support the new features for Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac that will benefit device end users through this certification process.
The new Wave 2 spec will not be backwards compatible with existing Wireless AC devices. The Wi-Fi alliance is working with chipset manufacturers on the first wave of chipsets to support Wave 2 of the spec to be certified. The first chipsets to support the new spec will include:
- Broadcom BCM94709R4366AC
- Marvell Avastar 88W8964
- MediaTek MT7615 AP Reference Design and MT6632 STA Reference Design
- Qualcomm IPQ8065 802.11ac 4-stream Dual-band, Dual-concurrent Router
- Quantenna QSR1000 4×4 802.11ac Wave 2 Chipset Family
The new chipsets will be appearing in devices from Cisco, HP, Huawei, Imagination Technologies, and more. Release dates for devices will be announced as they come on the market.