New wireless standards are released regularly, though they are still limited by the wired connection feeding them. According to research company, OpenSignal, the few places that offer the new gigabit Wi-Fi, or 802.11ac are not necessarily delivering a gigabit to smartphones.
The reason for this discrepancy can depend on how the newer technology is being rolled out and how wireless works in general. It also highlights the dependency of Wi-Fi on the performance of wired networks.
To get an idea of what types of networks people are using and the speeds they are getting, OpenSignal looked at the statistics generated by its free connection-monitoring app running on thousands of smartphones. Users that were connected to gigabit Wi-Fi were typically averaging 32.4Mbps.
Although this number is more than twice the speed of any other Wi-Fi version to date, the reality is that gigabit Wi-Fi is capable of 400Mbps. This is supposed to be achievable even in a simple one-antenna setup, which is commonly found in today’s smartphones.
The need for speed
In most situations, Wi-Fi tends to be shared among users and various devices, so it rarely has a chance to hit its top speed. Beyond that, it is often the speed of the wired connection that is holding back the Wi-Fi.
Replacing a Wi-Fi access point with the latest iteration is a simple step, though upgrading a wired network to a faster one is not as easy. The fastest Wi-Fi router on the market will still be dependent on the wired connection powering it, so a 25Mbps cable connection will translate to a similar Wi-Fi speed.
While Gigabit Wi-Fi is able to offer speeds of 7Gbps, regular Gigabit Ethernet and broadband connections are struggling to keep up. A newer 5Gbps or 10Gbps LAN connection is needed, as well as a fibre optic-powered Internet connection.
Despite the commercial availability of 802.11ac, it is still early days for the technology both on networks and smartphones. OpenSignal’s study found that Gigabit Wi-Fi usage topped at 11.4 per cent in Norway and 7.9 per cent in the U.S., with most users opting to use the slower 802.11n format.
Connecting at the speed of light
Technologies such as gigabit Wi-Fi underscore the importance of having the right network infrastructure to deliver the fastest possible connection to end-users. To that end, BTAS Connect uses fast fibre as the backbone to deliver high speed Internet and Wi-Fi to mid-size businesses.
BTAS Connect also stands out by offering choice to mid-size businesses in terms of design and architecture. It delivers cost efficiency by providing the latest in technology and increased competitiveness around pricing in the market.
With fast fibre at its core, BTAS Connect offers unlimited business-grade Internet at speeds up to 400Mbps from $800 (plus GST) per month. (Minimum cost $23,620 over 24 months, not available at all premises. For more details go to www.btas.com.au/connect).