You may have seen that the Wi-Fi Alliance is rolling out an update to their “Wi-Fi Certified ac” certification for equipment (“ac” refers to the 802.11ac Wi-Fi specification). Headlines relating to this announcement have been using terms like ‘speed boost’ and ‘higher Wi-Fi speeds’. Is this true, and should you focus on buying gear with this certification?

In short, the answers are no and no, but let me explain. First of all… Don’t get me wrong, this is a good initiative that will make it easier for people to find performant Wi-Fi gear, but the certification itself is only a ‘pointer’ to products with a certain subset of features already available today. Basically, within the 802.11ac specification, there is a list a list of mandatory and optional features for manufacturers to implement. This certification is only applicable to products with the following three features:

  • 4 spatial streams
  • Multi User Multi Input Multi Output (MU-MIMO)
  • 160MHz Channel width support

Without elaborating on what they entail, it’s safe to say that having these features on board theoretically allows for a product to perform better than many products on shelves today. That’s what all the talk about speed increases is about. However, given the fact that these technologies are already available in products, there’s no need to wait for the certification to be rolled out if you’re about to purchase new equipment. Also, don’t take for granted that these features will always make for a more performant system. If only it were that simple! 🙂


Originally published on by Edwin Edelenbos on LinkedIn.

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