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, providing high-throughput wireless local area networks (WLANs) on the 5 GHz band. The standard was developed from 2011 through 2013 and approved in January 2014.
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 eight), downlink multi-user MIMO (up to four clients), and high-density modulation (up to 256-QAM).
- 1 New technologies
- 2 Mandatory and optional features
- 3 New scenarios and configurations
- 4 Data rates and speed
- 5 Products
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
New technologies introduced with 802.11ac include the following:
- Extended channel binding
- Mandatory 80 MHz channel bandwidth for stations (vs. 40 MHz maximum in 802.11n), 160 MHz available optionally
- More MIMO spatial streams
- Support for up to eight spatial streams (vs. four in 802.11n)
- Downlink Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO, allows up to four simultaneous downlink MU-MIMO clients)
- Multiple STAs, each with one or more antennas, transmit or receive independent data streams simultaneously
- “Space Division Multiple Access” (SDMA): streams not separated by frequency, but instead resolved spatially, analogous to 11n-style MIMO
- Downlink MU-MIMO (one transmitting device, multiple receiving devices) included as an optional mode
- Multiple STAs, each with one or more antennas, transmit or receive independent data streams simultaneously
- Other elements/features
- Beamforming with standardized sounding and feedback for compatibility between vendors (non-standard in 802.11n made it hard for beamforming to work effectively between different vendor products)
- MAC modifications (mostly to support above changes)
- Coexistence mechanisms for 20/40/80/160 MHz channels, 11ac and 11a/n devices
- Adds four new fields to the PPDU header identifying the frame as a Very High Throughput (VHT) frame as opposed to 802.11n's High Throughput (HT) or earlier. The first three fields in the header are readable by legacy devices to allow coexistence
Meru Networks has suggested that 802.11ac makes a wireless network employing the Single Channel Architecture substantially more effective. Traditional 802.11 networks are deployed as a Multiple Channel Architecture
Mandatory and optional features
- Mandatory features (carried over from 802.11a/802.11g)
- New mandatory features (newly introduced in 802.11ac)
- 80 MHz channel bandwidths
- Optional features (carried over from 802.11n)
- Optional features (newly introduced in 802.11ac)
- five to eight spatial streams
- 160 MHz channel bandwidths (contiguous 80+80)
- 80+80 MHz channel bonding (discontiguous 80+80)
- MCS 8/9 (256-QAM)
New scenarios and configurations
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.
With the inclusion of USB 3.0 interface, 802.11ac access points and routers can use locally attached storage to provide various services that fully utilize their WLAN capacities, such as video streaming, FTP servers, and personal cloud services. With storage locally attached through USB 2.0, filling the bandwidth made available by 802.11ac was not easily doable.
All rates assume 256-QAM, rate 5/6:
|PHY link rate||Aggregate
|One-antenna AP, one-antenna STA, 80 MHz||Handheld||433 Mbit/s||433 Mbit/s|
|Two-antenna AP, two-antenna STA, 80 MHz||Tablet, laptop||867 Mbit/s||867 Mbit/s|
|One-antenna AP, one-antenna STA, 160 MHz||Handheld||867 Mbit/s||867 Mbit/s|
|Two-antenna AP, two-antenna STA, 160 MHz||Tablet, laptop||1.69 Gbit/s||1.69 Gbit/s|
|Four-antenna AP, four one-antenna STAs, 160 MHz
|Handheld||867 Mbit/s to each STA||3.39 Gbit/s|
|Eight-antenna AP, 160 MHz (MU-MIMO)
||Digital TV, Set-top Box,
Tablet, Laptop, PC, Handheld
|Eight-antenna AP, four 2-antenna STAs, 160 MHz
|Digital TV, tablet, laptop, PC||1.69 Gbit/s to each STA||6.77 Gbit/s|
Data rates and speed
|Theoretical throughput for single Spatial Stream (in Mbit/s)[a]|
|20 MHz channels||40 MHz channels||80 MHz channels||160 MHz channels|
|800 ns GI[c]||400 ns GI||800 ns GI||400 ns GI||800 ns GI||400 ns GI||800 ns GI||400 ns GI|
|Type||2.4 GHz Mbit/s[d]||5 GHz Mbit/s|
Commercial routers and access points
Quantenna released the first 802.11ac chipset for retail Wi-Fi routers and consumer electronics on November 15, 2011. Redpine Signals released the first low power 802.11ac technology for smartphone application processors on December 14, 2011. On January 5, 2012, Broadcom announced its first 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips and partners and on April 27, 2012, Netgear announced the first Broadcom-enabled router. On May 14, 2012, Buffalo Technology released the world’s first 802.11ac products to market, releasing a wireless router and client bridge adapter. On December 6, 2012, Huawei announced commercial availability of the industry's first enterprise-level 802.11ac Access Point.
Apple Inc. is selling 802.11ac versions of its AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule products. Motorola Solutions is selling 802.11ac access points including the AP 8232. In April 2014, Hewlett-Packard started selling the HP 560 access point in the controller-based WLAN enterprise market segment.
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 (albeit in its "draft 2.0" version).
In June 2013, Apple announced that the new MacBook Air features 802.11ac wireless networking capabilities, later announcing in October 2013 that the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro also featured 802.11ac.
|HTC||One (2013)||February 19, 2013||BCM4335 ||First 802.11ac-enabled handset announced February 19, 2013|
|Samsung||Galaxy S4||April 26, 2013||BCM4335 |
|Samsung||Galaxy Note 3||September 25, 2013||BCM4339 ||Subsequent Devices Include 802.11ac|
|LG||LG Nexus 5||October 2013||BCM4339 ||BCM4339 is the updated version of the BCM4335|
|Nokia||Lumia 1520||November 2013||WCN3680||First 802.11ac-enabled Windows Phone|
|Nokia||Lumia Icon||February 20, 2014||WCN3680||Lumia 930 is Europe version of the same phone, also with 802.11ac|
|HTC||One (M8)||March 25, 2014||WCN3680 |
|Samsung||Galaxy S5||April 11, 2014||BCM4354|
|LG||G2||September 18, 2013||AWL9581 |
|LG||G3||May 23, 2014||BCM4339 |
|Amazon.com||Fire Phone||July 25, 2014 ||WCN3680 |
|Samsung||Galaxy S5 Prime/SM-G906S||June 18, 2014||QCA6174|
|Samsung||Galaxy Alpha||September 07, 2014||E702A7|
|Apple||iPhone 6||September 19, 2014||BCM4345||First 802.11ac-enabled iOS device, along with iPhone 6 Plus|
|Apple||iPhone 6 Plus||September 19, 2014||BCM4345||First 802.11ac-enabled iOS device, along with iPhone 6|
|Motorola||Nexus 6||October 16, 2014||BCM4356|
|Samsung||Galaxy Note 4||October 10, 2014||BCM4358|
|Microsoft||Surface Pro 3||June 20, 2014||Intel Haswell dual core||802.11ac-enabled touchscreen computing device|
|Apple||iPad Air 2||October 24, 2014||Broadcom BCM4350||First 802.11ac-enabled iOS tablet device|
|Nexus 9||November 3, 2014||Nvidia Tegra K1||2x2 MIMO|
|Intel||7260 AC||2||laptops, desktops|
|Qualcomm||QCA9892||2||tablets, PtP Links|
|Qualcomm||QCA9990||4||enterprise access points|
|Qualcomm||QCA9992||3||enterprise access points|
|MediaTek||MT7610||1||?||?||?||PC (PCIe or USB)|
|MediaTek||MT7612E||2||laptops (PCIe 2.0)|
|MediaTek||MT7612U||2||laptops (USB 3.0)|
|Realtek||RTL8811AU||1||?||?||?||adapter (USB 2.0)|
|Realtek||RTL8812AU||2||?||?||?||adapter (USB 3.0)|
- A second stream doubles the theoretical data rate, a third one triples it, etc.
- MCS 9 is not applicable to all channel width/spatial stream combinations.
- GI stands for the guard interval.
- 802.11ac only specifies operation in the 5 GHz band. Operation in the 2.4 GHz band is specified by 802.11n.
- With 802.11n, 600 Mbit/s in the 2.4 GHz band can be achieved by using four spatial streams at 150 Mbit/s each. As of December 2014[update], commercially available devices that achieve 600 Mbit/s in the 2.4 GHz band use 3 spatial streams at 200 Mbit/s each. This requires the use of 256-QAM modulation, which is not compliant with 802.11n and can be considered a proprietary extension.
- As of December 2014[update], commercially available AC3200 devices use two separate radios with 1,300 Mbit/s each to achieve 2,600 Mbit/s total in the 5 GHz band.
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- 802.11ac Technology Introduction white paper
- A brief technology introduction on the 802.11ac amendment to the 802.11-2007 standard
- A list of 802.11ac devices
- The Not So Definitive Guide to Beamforming
- Understanding IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi Standard and Preparing the Enterprise WLAN
- MIMO 802.11ac Test Architectures
- 802.11ac: The Fifth Generation of Wi-Fi Technical Paper