Matt Slaybaugh writes: "The emerging 802.11ac standard promises significant performance enhancements over the current 11n standard, including an eye-popping 7Gbps maximum throughput. But as vendors begin to roll out pre- or draft-standard products, what performance can you realistically expect? You'll get increases in rate over range, individual throughput, and aggregate capacity, but don't bank on 7 Gbps any time soon. 11ac deviates from 11n in two significant ways. First, 11ac abandons the overcrowded 2.4 GHz band and will operate only in cleaner 5 GHz airspace. Second, 11ac introduces a new technique dubbed Multi-User (MU) MIMO that will use beamforming to simultaneously transmit/receive independent streams, letting a single AP communicate with up to 4 clients at once. However, MU-MIMO won't appear until the second wave of 11ac products in 2014-2015. Until that happens, Gigabit Wi-Fi can't hit that monster 7 Gbps data rate promised by the standard. In the meantime, expect to see Wi-Fi certified draft 11ac single-stream clients reaching 433 Mbps and APs transmitting up to 1.3 Gbps. These rates still blow away the best of today's 11n products. If you set your expectations appropriately, you won't be disappointed."
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