The first wave of 802.11ac routers currently available on the market are based on earlier drafts of the 802.11ac standard and will no longer be the fastest standard on the market. The second wave of 802.11ac devices are based on the final ratified standard and are set to include new features that better optimize wireless networks.
802.11ac standard: Wave 1 vs. Wave 2
802.11ac https://www.networkcomputing.com/wireless-infrastructure/80211ac-wi-fi-part-2-wave-1-and-wave-2-products/d/d-id/1234650 Wave 2 is set to include MU-MIMO capabilities among other advances that will give routers a speed boost from the original 3.47 Gbps in first generation to 6.93 Gbps in the final iteration of the standard.
MU-MIMO or Multiple-user multiple input/multiple output “enables [routers] to send multiple spatial streams to multiple clients simultaneously”. With 160 MHz channel bonding (as opposed to 80 Mhz bonding over wave 1) and backwards compatibility with previous standards, the new standard boasts a performance boost over the first generation of 802.11ac routers. With a physical link rate of nearly 7 Gbps, users hoping to upgrade to 802.11ac should consider waiting to catch the second wave.
Dell’Oro Group has published a report that notes that the “Wireless LAN (WLAN) market grew eight percent in the third quarter 2014 versus the year-ago period” and that “Enterprise-class 802.11ac-based radio access points grew a robust 40 percent versus the second quarter 2014.”
The report forecasts that the WLAN market will be stimulated with the release of 802.11ac Wave 2 equipment along with government funding in the US meant to support wireless connectivity in schools and libraries.
But even the second generation of the 802.11ac standard cannot compare with the wireless speeds of a still newer specification. The 802.11ax standard is set to “not just increase the overall speed of a network”but to “quadruple wireless speeds of individual clients.” Huawei’s research and development labs , have reported to successfully reach wireless connections speeds of 10 Gbps utilizing the 5GHz frequency band.
The standard is set to be finalized in 2019, but manufacturers can be expected to release products based on the pre-standard as early as 2016.
While wireless connections keep getting faster, the options for internet users to connect to the internet keep expanding. In the near future, users can be expected to connect to the internet using LED lights, or gain wireless access to the internet by connecting to a micro-satellite orbiting the Earth.