Wi-Fi connections are set to become a lot faster as the Wi-Fi Alliance rolls out its new 'Wi-Fi Certified ac' specification, which will bring bring Multi-user Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology to routers and devices. As manufacturers adopt the new technology, it will provide multi-gigabit per second (Gbps) data rates, and enable devices to handle demanding applications such as Ultra HD and 4K video.
Wi-Fi has had a tough time keeping up with the influx of connected devices we're wielding these days. Even if you have the fastest broadband connection on offer, your current Wi-Fi router may not be able to cope as everyone tries to connect at once.
MU-MIMO enables routers to serve multiple devices at once, meaning everyone in your home or office will be able to get online at once, and no more cries of 'stop hogging the Wi-Fi!'.
This is achieved as Wi-Fi Certified ac products are dual-band, operating in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum range, and they have doubled channel bandwidth from 80MHz to 160MHz. This will allow Wi-Fi routers to make better use of available spectrum, meaning less congestion and interference.
It also supports four spatial streams (the number of data streams your router can transmit at once), up from three, meaning a proportional boost in the data speed received by a compatible device.
Andrew Zignani, research analyst at ABI Research, said: "Wi-Fi Certified ac gives users a greater experience in dense environments by maximising Wi-Fi network resources, providing a richer set of features, and enabling the full potential of the technology."
The first Wi-Fi Certified ac products to support the new features will come from Broadcom, Marvell, MediaTek, Quantenna and Qualcomm. The Wi-Fi Alliance said routers supporting the new specification would "dominate the market within the next five years".
Edgar Figueroa, the organisation's President and CEO, said: "In today's world, people have more Wi-Fi devices per person and per household, and those devices require significantly more bandwidth. Wi-Fi Alliance updated the Wi-Fi Certified ac program to meet increasing user demands and to stay ahead of emerging applications, while preserving interoperability."