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:
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!
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:
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:
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:
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”!
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:
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!
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:
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.
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:
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.