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, providing high-throughput wireless local area networks (WLANs) on the 5 GHz band. The standard was developed from 2008 (PAR approved 2008-09-26) through 2013 and published in December 2013 (ANSI approved 2013-12-11). The standard has been retroactively labelled as Wi-Fi 5 by Wi-Fi Alliance.
The specification has multi-station throughput of at least 1 gigabit per second and 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).
Wi-Fi Alliance separated the introduction of ac wireless products into two phases ("wave"), named "Wave 1" and "Wave 2". From mid-2013, the alliance started certifying Wave 1 802.11 ac products ships by manufacturers, based on the IEEE 802.11 ac Draft 3.0 (the IEEE standard was not finalized until later that year). Subsequently in year 2016, Wi-Fi Alliance introduced the Wave 2 certification, which include additional features like MU-MIMO, 160MHz channel width support, support for more 5GHz channels, and four spatial streams (with four antennas; compares to three in Wave 1 and 802.11n, and eight in IEEE's 802.11ac specification). It means Wave 2 products would have higher bandwidth and capacity than Wave 1 products.
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 accomplished.
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|
|Three-antenna AP, three-antenna STA, 80 MHz||Laptop, PC||1.27 Gbit/s||1.27 Gbit/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|
Wave 2, referring to products introduced in 2016, offers a higher throughput than legacy Wave 1 products, those introduced starting in 2013. The maximum PHY (physical) theoretical rate for Wave 1 is 1.3 Gbit/s, while Wave 2 can reach 2.34 Gbit/s. Wave 2 can therefore achieve 1 Gbit/s even if the real world throughput turns out to be only 50% of the theoretical rate. Wave 2 also supports a higher number of connected devices.
|Data rate (in Mbit/s)[b]|
|20 MHz channels||40 MHz channels||80 MHz channels||160 MHz channels|
|800 ns GI||400 ns GI||800 ns GI||400 ns GI||800 ns GI||400 ns GI||800 ns GI||400 ns GI|
Several companies are currently offering 802.11ac chipsets with higher modulation rates: MCS-10 and MCS-11 (1024-QAM), supported by Quantenna and Broadcom. Although technically not part of 802.11ac, these new MCS indices are expected to become official in the 802.11ax standard (~2019), the successor to 802.11ac.
160 MHz channels, and thus the throughput might be unusable in some countries/regions due to regulatory issues that allocated some frequencies for other purposes.
|Type||2.4 GHz band[c]
[all 40 MHz]
|5 GHz band
[all 80 MHz]
|AC450||-||-||433||1 stream @ MCS 9|
|AC600||150||1 stream @ MCS 7||433||1 stream @ MCS 9|
|AC750||300||2 streams @ MCS 7||433||1 stream @ MCS 9|
|AC1000||300||2 streams @ MCS 7||650||2 streams @ MCS 7|
|AC1200||300||2 streams @ MCS 7||867||2 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC1300||400||2 streams @ MCS 9||867||2 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC1300||-||-||1,300||3 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC 1350||450||3 streams @ MCS 7||867||2 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC1450||450||3 streams @ MCS 7||975||3 streams @ MCS 7|
|AC1600||300||2 streams @ MCS 7||1,300||3 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC1750||450||3 streams @ MCS 7||1,300||3 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC1900||600[d]||3 streams @ MCS 9||1,300||3 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC2200||450||3 streams @ MCS 7||1,733||4 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC2300||600||4 streams @ MCS 7||1,625||5 streams @ MCS 7|
|AC2350||600||4 streams @ MCS 7||1,733||4 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC2600||800[d]||4 streams @ MCS 9||1,733||4 streams @ MCS 9|
|AC3000||450||3 streams @ MCS 7||1,300 + 1,300||3 streams @ MCS 9 x 2|
|AC3150||1000[e]||4 streams @ 1024-QAM||2,167||4 streams @ 1024-QAM|
|AC3200||600[d]||3 streams @ MCS 9||1,300 + 1,300[f]||3 streams @ MCS 9 x 2|
|AC5000||600||4 streams @ MCS 7||2,167 + 2,167||4 streams @ 1024-QAM x 2|
|AC5300||1000[e]||4 streams @ 1024-QAM||2,167 + 2,167||4 streams @ 1024-QAM x 2|
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.
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 would 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 (M7)||March 22, 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 7, 2014||E702A7|
|Apple||iPhone 6/Plus||September 19, 2014||BCM4345||First 802.11ac-enabled iOS devices|
|Motorola||Nexus 6||October 16, 2014||BCM4356|
|Samsung||Galaxy Note 4||October 10, 2014||BCM4358|
|Samsung||Galaxy Note 5||August 21, 2015||BCM4359 |
|Microsoft||Surface Pro 3||June 20, 2014||Avastar 88W8897||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|
|Qualcomm||QCA9892||2||tablets, PtP Links|
|Qualcomm||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||2||laptops (USB 3.0)|
|Realtek||RTL8811AU||1||?||?||?||adapter (USB 2.0)|
|Realtek||RTL8812AU||2||?||?||?||adapter (USB 3.0)|
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