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AC WiFi: What you need to know

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There’s a lot of talk about AC WiFi these days; what was a new-fangled WiFi technology back in 2012 is now pretty commonplace but if you don’t know what it means, you may not know that a better type of WiFi is right under your nose!

The type of WiFi most of us are used to (whether we knew its name or not) is 2.4GHz N WiFi. AC WiFi is a newer type of WiFi that broadcasts on a 5GHz frequency band. More bandwidth means more speed for better home networking performance with less signal interference, which is great for high-density living areas like apartment buildings! In comparison to N WiFi, AC WiFi is faster but it can only operate over a shorter distance. However, that “shorter distance” is a range of 30 metres, so for most Aussie home users, this is more than enough distance!

Now you know what AC WiFi is, how can you start using it at home? Chances are good that you already have what you need to get connected to AC WiFi – after all, the checklist is just two items long:

  • A WiFi router that broadcasts AC WiFi
  • A computer, smartphone or other device that can connect to AC WiFi

Not sure if that applies to your devices? Have a read of this handy guide and we’ll help you figure it out. You’ll be clued in about AC WiFi in no time!

Can my router broadcast AC WiFi?

The best way to find out what kind of WiFi your router has is to go to the router itself and check the base or back for its barcode sticker. There’s all kinds of valuable information on this sticker, starting with the make and model of your router. Here’s an example for a TP-Link router:

acwifi1

We can actually already see “AC1600 Wireless” on the sticker to the right of the TP-Link logo, but not all modem stickers will have this information, so let’s pretend it isn’t there. Chuck the make and model in a Google search along with “tech specs” (e.g. “tp-link archer vr1600v tech specs”) and you should get a hit for the manufacturer or retailer’s website, like this:

acwifi2

Visit manufacturer or retailer’s web page and have a read. You need to look out for anything like “AC WiFi” or “802.11ac wireless”. Sometimes, the “AC” may be followed by numbers which are relevant to its performance (the higher, the better). Here we can see “AC1600 Wireless” again on the modem summary page:

acwifi3

If it’s not immediately apparent in the summary information, then check out the full table of technical specifications. The tech specs may be a little intimidating because they’ll be written in the most technical way possible, e.g. “IEE 8012.11a/n/ac 5GHz” – just remember that the key is in the “AC”!

acwifi4

If your modem router was supplied by iiNet in the last few years, such as our TG-789 Broadband Gateway, it’s pretty likely that it has AC WiFi ready to go! Here’s a quick list of other routers we’ve sold and supplied in the past that also have AC WiFi:

  • Cable Gateway Pro
  • Budii Lite
  • Huawei HG659 Home router for NBN™ HFC

You can find out more about our past and present modem routers on iiHelp.

If you can’t find any mention of AC WiFi for your router’s make and model, then it most likely doesn’t have it. When it’s time to get a new router (for example, most people require a new router when they upgrade to NBN™) keep AC WiFi in mind when you’re choosing your device!

Can my device connect to AC WiFi?

Out of all your devices, the one that’s most likely to be able to connect to AC WiFi is your smartphone or tablet. These devices get upgraded more frequently than desktop computers or laptops and because they’re all-in-one units (as opposed to computers, where individual components can be easily switched out) manufacturers were very quick to start making phones that could connect to AC WiFi by default. As a rule of thumb for the three most popular manufacturers, these models can connect to AC WiFi:

  • iPhone 5 or later
  • Samsung Galaxy S3 or later
  • HTC One X or later

If you’re not sure about your make and model of smartphone or tablet, run a Google search for the make and model along with “tech specs” and you should find information about your phone’s WiFi connectivity on the manufacturer or retailer’s website.

Desktop computers and laptops can be a little trickier because they typically get upgraded less frequently than our phones, and many computers have an older N WiFi adaptor installed by default. If you’re not sure which type of WiFi adaptor your computer or laptop has, follow this guide for Windows and Mac to find out.

If it turns out your computer or laptop doesn’t have an AC WiFi adaptor, it can be relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. You can start by making an enquiry at your local computer shop about getting an AC WiFi adaptor installed. Alternatively, if you have a spare USB port on your device, you can purchase a USB plugin AC WiFi adaptor for fuss-free connectivity.

How do I connect to AC WiFi?

Once you’ve made sure that your router can broadcast AC WiFi and your device(s) can connect to the network, it’s just a matter of putting it all into action. The good news is that routers typically broadcast a WiFi network by default so you should be able to connect without even needing to change your router settings.

Have another look at your router’s barcode sticker and you’ll find the details for the default 5GHz AC WiFi network. This will show you the name of the WiFi network (commonly labelled as a “SSID”) that you need to look out for in the list of available networks to join on your device, as well as the WiFi password you need to use in order to connect successfully. If there’s more than one network name, use the one that includes “5G” (this is the one that connects you to the AC network), such as in this example:

acwifi5

If you’re a little rusty on how to join WiFi networks on your computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet, our Connecting to a WiFi Network guide will walk you through it.

That’s all there is to it! If you want to get fancy and start changing the name and password for your WiFi network, that’s when you’ll need to start consulting the user manual for your router.

You can find guides for all iiNet modem routers on iiHelp.

34 comments

  1. Ian Craft says:

    What are the health risks of 5G compared to 4G or 3G for that matter?

  2. Matthew Kenny says:

    Does this article refer to what is called the “5G network”?
    If I can connect to this network will I need an NBN connection?
    My modem has the code TGiiNet-1 and there is no obvious reference to AC1600 Wireless. Will I need a different modem?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Matthew,

      This article does not refer to the 5G network. Instead, this article refers to AC Wi-Fi: a type of wireless network that can be used for faster wireless networking within the home, allowing all AC-capable devices (like smartphones, laptops, tablets etc) to connect to the modem at faster speeds. The TG-1 is not AC Wi-Fi equipped, however, the TG-789 modem is AC Wi-Fi equipped.

      If you have devices at home that can support AC WiFi (we’d advise checking each device first), then you can choose to upgrade to an AC Wi-Fi capable modem. If not, there’s no benefit in changing modem’s.

      – Leo

  3. Graham Pearce says:

    The 5ghz on my router is ON. Do I need to turn off the 2.4ghz?

  4. Barry Dennett says:

    Recently changed from iinettNBN to iinet fttb that promised Ultra broadband with speed of 90Mbps. Have done an iinet speed test that shows a speed of 29.8Mbps. Seems quite a difference.

  5. Ingvar Warnholtz says:

    I have in a box a CISCO Linksys E4200 router in a box. Using Bob Lite at the moment. Is the E4200 an AC WiFi compatible?

  6. Glenn Domanski says:

    I have a Budii lite how do I set up AC wireless, it will not let me enable while I have older N enabled, I need to run both at the same time, instructions are not very clear.

  7. Scott Banister-Jones says:

    Hey Leo,
    I have a BoBLight Wireless VOIP modem (provided by iinet) but I can’t see AC anywhere and it’s not in your manual.
    Any help would be handy.
    Ta,
    Scott

    • Josh McKenzie says:

      Cheers for the comment, Scott! The BoB Lite is a bit of an older piece of hardware and as a result is limited to N-Wireless certification. AC Wireless certification was first introduced in our hardware from Budii Lite and carried through to our current TG-789.

      There are of course many options for new hardware and re-contracting incentives to waive costs.

      – Josh

  8. Scott Banister-Jones says:

    Hey Josh,
    So I need to buy a new modem is what you’re saying?

    Cheers,

    Scott

    • Chris May says:

      Hi Scott. If you were after a modem capable of AC WiFi you have the option of purchasing one, or alternatively you may be eligible to re-contract your service and be provided with one of our newer modems that have this feature. Our billing team on 13 22 58 can look into this for you, or you’re welcome to send us your contact details (iiOnline@iinet.net.au) and I can arrange for a representative to give you a call to discuss this further.

      – Chris

  9. John says:

    I just heard Wi-Fi 6 is becoming available. So will this be available with iinet soon??

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi John,

      The current 802.11ac standard is otherwise known as Wi-Fi 5. Wi-Fi 6 is the next evolution of Wi-Fi and will start appearing on devices in the coming year or two. No idea on when it will be available on devices we retail though.

      – Leo

  10. Craig says:

    How do I connect to AC wifi? Is there any settings i must change? Or will it automatically connect?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Craig,

      You’ll need to ensure that AC Wireless is enabled in your modem, so have a look at your modem manual or quick start guide for more information.

      – Leo

  11. Nijaz Dzelilovic says:

    Perfect and very timely as we’re approaching NBN installation in our area and will need to upgrade the modem. Well done and thank you.

  12. Sharon says:

    I have a new OLED TV should I use the 5G option for it as I am having trouble with its speed if viewing a program on say abc iview & I just get the spinning ball,in the end I have to use screen mirroring through the Apple TV device as to get connected through the TV is hopeless?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Sharon,

      We’d recommend having a look at the TV manual first. Some smart TV’s come with an ethernet port, so you can plug it directly into your modem. This is often a better option than Wi-Fi, so if the modem is close enough, consider this as an alternative.

      – Leo

  13. Mark Bedford says:

    Although i applaud you for educational articles like this. You’ve really made this confusing for most customers to understand by calling this ‘5g’ and ‘wifi ac’. Quite rightly customers will confuse this with celluar technology of 2G,4G,5G they are used to hearing mobile phone providers talk about.

    If you just called it older ‘2.4ghz wifi’ and newer faster ‘5ghz wifi’, it would have been a hell of a lot easier for a non IT audience to to follow.

  14. patrick o'rourke says:

    hi. would like to update my fetch box to the new fetch,have been told i would have to buy outright and not be rented as my current box the box i would like to have is the mighty can’t buy outright as pensioner,any suggestions
    please.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Sadly the Fetch Mighty is not available as a rental option at this time, but if this changes, we’ll be sure to make some noise about it!

      – Leo

  15. William Lu says:

    When I see my router, say TP-Link TD-W8980 without showing AC WIFI logo anywhere, but do indicates dual band (2.4GHZ and 5GHZ), has it already meant it has AC WIFI build in?

  16. kim matthews says:

    I have a NetComm NB600 (NB16WV) wireless modem connected to NBN @ 50mbs. Will I see an improvement in wireless connectivity in my house if I move to a new iinet AC wireless modem? Which would you recommend?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Kim!

      Whilst we’re delighted with the performance of out TG-789 modem and its dual band Wi-Fi, ultimately, the choice is yours to make. AC Wi-Fi does increase wireless speeds but there are also many variables that come into play with Wi-Fi.

      We have a help guide especially for this, here:

      https://iihelp.iinet.net.au/Improving_WiFi_Signal_and_Changing_Channels

      If your Wi-Fi at home isn’t working as intended, try the guide first! As much as we’d love to sell you a new modem, why spend money when you don’t need to?

      – Leo

  17. Andrew says:

    We have a Samsung TV on our wifi network. Do I need to make any changes to its setup?

  18. Michael says:

    Could you advise if my fetch TV mighty, purchased thru iiNet in December last year will connect via AC WiFi?

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