OnQ welcomes Guest Blogger Justin Doucette from Linksys:
When was the last time you upgraded your router? Thought so.
Everyone likes to complain about slow Internet speeds. But when was the last time you thought about your router, let alone bought a new one?
As a discriminating reader of this blog, you may be among the small percentage of Americans running the current state-of-the art wireless technology, 802.11ac (“AC”). If so, be proud. A recent IDC Survey, sponsored by Linksys: The Home Network, the Neglected Work Horse reports that only 5% of the people surveyed have a wireless-AC router.
Keeping up to date
If you’re worried about keeping up with the Joneses, don’t be. Your neighbors probably haven’t upgraded their router since Windows Vista replaced XP (that was back in 2007—I had to look it up). Maybe you’re not as behind the curve as you thought.
Most people have never even heard of AC and have no idea that the Wi-Fi technology powering today’s growing interconnected ecosystem is more than eight years old. Think about that for a second. Do you remember what kind of phone you rocked eight years ago?
Do your neighbors a favor. Instead of just asking for their network password, recommend a router upgrade, ASAP. Like, now! (Of course, you may want to get one for yourself, too.)
Expanding the Wi-Fi lexicon
Terms like dual-band, gigabit, 80MHz, channel bonding, beamforming, QoS, SSID, and WAP are a foreign language to most non-geeks. Basically, they all describe ways to help improve the performance, reliability, and security of our Wi-Fi router. However, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Get ready for MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output). It’s the next wave of Wi-Fi technology and it’s going to enhance and boost your wireless experience even more.
High-speed broadband is now defined as a minimum of 25 Mbps downlink by the FCC and 100 Mbps (or 300 Mbps connections in large cities) is not uncommon. Wireless-AC technology has helped to increase the 5 GHz band capacity from 450 Mbps to 1733 Mbps—almost 2 gigabits of data per second! That’s a lot of data running through the bandwidth “pipeline”.
If you have a high-end AC router, like an AC1900 router, your bandwidth pipeline begins to narrow as you move farther from the router, and as more environmental factors get in the way (such as walls). If you’re paying for 100 Mbps, you want that speed to extend all the way to the edge of your network, not just when you’re sitting next to your router!
Although wireless-AC has solved the “throughput-at-range” problem, it can’t handle a crowded network of speed-hungry devices all trying to steal each other’s connection and bandwidth. When all of those devices are streaming video and playing online games at the same time, your 100 Mbps broadband becomes compromised as too many devices fight for the same bandwidth. The problem is legacy routers are Single-User MIMO (SU-MIMO), which provides throughput to each device in a serial manner: Device 1, Device 2, Device 3 and then Device 1 again or so forth in a round robin. A MU-MIMO-based router can service three devices simultaneously, delivering up to three times as much network performance.
The need for a MU-MIMO-based router will soon become commonplace as more and more MU-MIMO client devices proliferate in the home, starting with smartphones, tablets and laptops, and eventually expanding to all connected devices (like TVs, cameras and home automation solutions).
The arrival of MU-MIMO
The first MU-MIMO-enabled router to hit the market is the Linksys MAX-STREAM AC2600 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router (EA8500). The EA8500 is available starting May 7th and uses the Qualcomm Internet Processor IPQ8064 processor and Qualcomm® VIVE™ 11ac chipset QCA9980 featuring Qualcomm® MU | EFX, delivering up to 2533 Mbps in combined throughput.
If you like to upgrade to the latest CE devices, you’ll want to upgrade to a MU-MIMO router. And don’t forget to tell your neighbors!