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Wi-Fi Advanced

802.11ac

IEEE 802.11ac is the next evolution of Wi-Fi—to push capacity into Gigabits-per-second in order to meet the 1000x challenge. 11ac mandates operation in the 5 GHz band where there is relatively less interference and more channels are available, compared to the 2.4 GHz band used by previous 11 a/b/g/n standards. 11ac uses wider bandwidth and up to eight spatial streams to achieve a maximum of 6.93 Gigabits-per-second theoretical throughput. 11ac also enables new use cases such as multiple HD video streams throughout the home by improving spectral efficiency.

With an ever-increasing number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices present in enterprise and home (i.e., higher attach rates) 11ac is the ideal evolution in the Wi-Fi standard, using advanced techniques that leverage spectral efficiency and higher bandwidth, ultimately providing needed capacity and performance gains. Qualcomm VIVE includes an entire ecosystem of 11ac solutions that will accelerate the transition to next-generation of Wi-Fi.

11ac is fully backward compatible with 802.11n. It operates in the 5 GHz band and uses up to 160 MHz bandwidth. In addition, it uses spatial division multiple access (SDMA) techniques to enable multi-user MIMO or MU-MIMO. Operating in 5 GHz band reduces interference and antenna size requirement, allowing for smaller antenna sizes for portable devices, leveraging wider bandwidths (20, 40, 80, and optional 160 MHz) and increases in data rates.

Qualcomm has demonstrated MU-MIMO PHY operation running on a prototype 11n module with a MU-MIMO software overlay. Results showed a 3x improvement in PHY rates compared to 11n. See how this works in the Wi-Fi Advanced 11ac video.

All of the above features have been standardized in IEEE under 11ac which are explained in this white paper (link). Qualcomm Research, along with other participants, lead the standardization efforts for these features.