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How does 802.11ac gain its speed?

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The 802.11ac protocol has a number of enhancements that have been implemented in multiple

Wider Channel Widths

  • 80 MHz channels (contiguous)
  • 160 MHz channels (contiguous or two non-contiguous 80 MHz slices)

256-QAM (Quadrature amplitude modulation)

  • Provides a 33% increase in throughput over the 64-QAM used in 11n

Downlink Multi-user MIMO


  • Allows 1 AP to transmit unique data to multiple stations simultaneously

Up to 8 spatial streams

  • Compared to a maximum of 4 spatial streams in 11n
  • Up to 8 spatial streams in both single-user and multi-user modes
  • No more than 4 spatial streams per station in multi-user mode

Other Enhancements

  • Single sounding & feedback format for beam forming (as opposed to multiple, incompatible formats in 11n)
  • Coexistence mechanisms
  • Independent virtual carrier sense in sub-channels
  • Upvote 1

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