Demands on business networks have dramatically increased, both due to an increase in devices and an increase in data-driven applications. Part of the job in meeting this demand is to ask, how fast does your business Wi-Fi need to be?
A push for flexibility and move away from fixed infrastructure has meant an increase in wireless devices. Meeting this demand has proved more challenging than with wired networks, with complaints about wireless speeds and reliability commonly reported by users. Dealing with the issue and getting the right wireless speed comes down to getting the two main components of a wireless network right: enough bandwidth and a smart use of that bandwidth.
All wireless networks used shared bandwidth. That means that all devices have to share the total data throughput between them. So, with one device on a 600Mbit/sec network, you get a really fast connection; run 12 devices at once and each gets an average of 50Mbit/sec.
The aim of a wireless network, then, is to maximise speed for each client and increase the bandwidth available.
How fast do you need?
Key to understanding network speeds is understanding the standards. Wireless routers are sold with a rating for the 802.11ac standard, such as AC2200. The number after the AC gives you the overall speed in Gbit/sec that a router supports, so the higher the rating, the faster the overall router.
Yet, that isn’t the whole picture. The AC rating is a total that combines all available networks. So, an AC2200 router can provide a 450Mbit/sec 2.4GHz network and a 1,733Mbit/sec 5GHz network. While AC2300 devices are faster overall, the split is different: 600MBit/sec 2.4GHz networking and a slower 1,625Mbit/sec 5GHz network. An AC2600 router, such as the ASUS BRT-AC8282, gives you the fastest dual-band speeds, with one 800Mbit/s 2.4GHz network and one 1,733Mbit/s 5GHz network.
Remember, wireless isn’t perfect and it’s likely that you’ll only get up to around 70% of the maximum speed, and less than this on older devices.