802.11ac Wave 1

Trough of Disillusionment
UMN Assessment
Time Frame
2 to 5 Years
Last Updated on Sep 26, 2014

Wifi networks run successive versions of IEEE's 802.11 family of protocols. 802.11b, the first widely implemented version, popularized the ubiquitous wireless access we now take for granted.  802.11b was improved successively by changes defined in 802.11a, 802.11g, and 802.11n; each iteration required new hardware for both access points as well as mobile clients.  Currently, 802.11n has wide support, both for available access points as well as in phone, tablet, and laptop hardware.

Next Generations of Wifi
802.11ac is the next generation of higher speed wifi networks. It will be rolled out in two "waves," hence the term "802.11ac Wave 1." While this iteration does offer faster performance, devices may need eight antennas to take advantage of it. Current mobile hardware has only one or two internal antennas, and current applications perform adequately on existing wireless networks.  Because of this, it is likely that most institutions will retain their 802.11n networks, and perhaps skip 802.11ac Wave 1, waiting until hardware for Wave 2 of 802.11ac becomes available and popular.

Wifi Networks at the University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota's wifi network currently (2014) runs 802.11N.