Let us talk a bit about routers and wireless, because manufacturers’ advertisements might make you think you may get „speeds” up to 1900 Mbps on a single device. You cannot.
These are some few technical explanations of what the bands mean both in theory and in practice and what to expect when checking out a wifi connection. Just bear in mind that the following paragraphs only refer to router facilitated wireless connection. For cable connections buy the fastest router on the subject; you might want to check our top with the fastest routers for 1000 Mbps.
DATA FLUXES AND TOTAL WIRELESS BROADBAND
These are routers which promise really high wireless speed. Asus RT-AC68 talks about 1900 Mbps and so does Linksys WRT1900AC. D-Link 860L mentions 1200 Mbps, the new TP-Link Archer C2 has 750 Mbps.
These values represent the theoretical maximum broadband which a router can provide on all the supported wifi types (that 802.11b/g/n/ac) when there are multiple devices connected. It is practically impossible to get that kind of speed from a single device, be it laptop or tablet. Latest generation laptops got speeds up to 195 Mbps and top smartphones or tablets got 90 Mbps.
The router supports however much more than that in the case there are more laptops connected simultaneously. Maybe you’ve got a big family and everyone wants to stream different series in the same time or maybe you’re managing an office where every employee needs a very efficient wifi connection. A high capacity router can provide a fast connection to everyone.
That means that even if there are only one or two people in the household or just a PC that needs fast internet connection, a wireless router of 600 Mbps is enough for at least another couple of years.
Another thing you need to take into consideration is the source of the data. Let us assume that you have a 1900 Mbps router and that there really are 10 people connected simultaneously, all of them streaming online movies or downloading them at maximum speed. If that is the case then the router can cater the maximum total speed of 1900 megabits per second, but what receives them at the same speed? Nothing, the internet port has a capacity of only 1000 Mbps, so there appears a limitation which almost halves the speed.
Basically advertisements for these routers tell you that there are internal network transfers, in between laptops or on media servers or NAS (network-attached storage) towards laptops and that is the reason why the broadband is larger than that of cable internet providers.
What is the probability of that? To be honest it’s not that high. And then there are ever stranger routers which offer high wireless speed (750 Mbps) with a 100 Mbps internet connection; even LAN internet ports have 100 Mbps. Practically the user gets fast wireless only on laptop-laptop connections or from a NAS or a media-server also connected on wireless because cable limits one at 100 Mbps. Nobody sets up wireless NAS or media servers.
HOW TO GET THESE BROADBANDS ?
There are a number of wireless standards. We know them as B, G, N and AC, but their official names are 802.11b/g/n/ac. Each of them is faster than the previous. Some generate wireless networks on 2.4 GHz, others on 5 GHz. N can generate them on both frequencies, while the AC (the most recent) is tuned only on 5 GHz.
The maximum band a device has (be it laptop, tablet etc.) while connected to a network depends on other factors as well: the bandwidth on which the communication is done is the first one, this being of 20, 40, 80 or 160 MHz. When saying that around the 2.4 GHz (or 5G Hz) frequency the communication is done on a bandwidth of 80MHz try to imagine a mountain path, where the frequency is the altitude one needs to reach (and which matters less) and the 20-160 MHz band describes the width of the path that takes you there. The wider the band is, the faster the connection.
Another element is the way the wireless signal is modulated. For ease of understanding we will put it this way: imagine that on the mountain path previously described there are miscellaneous vehicles.
If one wants to transport a large number of people the ideal means with which they can get from one side to another is the bus, which fits more people into a single ride. The same theory applies here as well, some types of modulations are better than other, weaker ones, because the first sends more data with a single pack. Routers automatically commute between modulations when the device is further away. The fastest modulations can only be used with a strong, unperturbed signal because otherwise the router automatically modifies the used system.
This is the reason why internet speed is lower in rooms other than the one in which the device is installed. It is recommended that users have signal repeaters to solve the problem.
Basic speeds are the following:
For N: 150 Mbps
For AC: 433 Mbps on 80 MHz and 867 Mbps on 160 MHz
These are ideal cases (the largest bandwidth and the best modulation) that work with a single emission aerial namely a single flux. Routers that have a larger capacity use more than one aerial so that they simultaneously communicate with one or more devices. This is the equivalent of a road with multiple lanes, all which have the same destination. A 1900 Mbps router usually has 2 N antennas and 3 AC ones, in other words 3 x 150 Mbps + 3 x 433 Mbps, which rounded up means 1900. If the router emits with two aerials and the laptop which is connected to it has only one, then it will only be able to receive a single data flux.
If one wants more fluxes, they need another two aerials attached to the laptop/tablet, and those are scarcely manufactured (momentarily only for N). For this same reason these kinds of routers are useful when a larger number of devices are connected to it.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM WIRELESS SPEED A SINGLE DEVICE CAN GET ?
Some tests have proved that it is possible to get 260 Mbps, but if we are talking about maximum values we need to discuss Qualcomm’s demonstration which took place at a gathering in Spain. They have proved that a single device can get up to 600 Mbps using a special-built phone, a demo unit, ran a special transfer software and who knows what special router they had hidden. In these mega-special test conditions and with non-commercial equipment they reached the limit of 600 Mbps, but who knows how long it’s going to take until that intelligence will reach the ordinary user. Therefore do not get too excited because a speed over 200 Mbps on a laptop is still a miracle.
In theory a single AC antenna can ensure 433 Mbps, but in practice we never get that much because the routers automatically set for a weaker modulation and the transmission is not done under perfect conditions.
Another reason for which the speed is so reduced is the way the data is packed to be transmitted. The user is told that they have a 200 Mbps connection and maybe they do get that many bits per second, but the data one uses are packed together with other pieces of information, such as addresses, pack number etc. Compare it with the post services, where the useful data (the letter or the product) are transported in an envelope or in a box, together with stamps, tags and protective material, all of which make the pack look larger than it truly is.
WHAT IF MY LAPTOP CANNOT SUSTAIN 802.11AC?
There are adaptors which connect via USB and which allow for AC connectivity. These adaptors have the standard USB 3.0 (normal, otherwise it would not be able to make the fast connection between the laptop and the router) and they can get a total broadband of 1200 Mbps, obtained from a 300 plus a 867 Mbps. They can be successfully used either by laptops or by desktops.
We hope you find this information useful and that it will make it easier for you to find the latest technology to get these incredible transfer speeds because ultimately time is a limited resource and any gadget which saves our time is a necessity.