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Is a new 802.11ac router worth the money?

Is a new 802.11ac router worth the money?

Home networks used to be something only hardcore techies would dare set up. Now with smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs, streaming video boxes and video game consoles all requiring the Internet, home networks are practically mandatory.


Fortunately, today's networks are much easier to set up, thanks to wireless networks. No one likes running cables all over the house, after all.

For all the convenience, wireless networks do have a few drawbacks, mostly in the areas of speed and range. But these both improve with every generation of Wi-Fi.

The latest 802.11ac standard is no exception. Manufacturers boast speeds more than 3 times faster than the previous generation of Wi-Fi. That's quite a jump!

To get that speed, you'll need to buy a new router, of course. So the big question is if it's worth the cost.

For those not up on the jumble of letters and numbers that relate to wireless standards, let me explain. 802.11 is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers designation for Wi-Fi. The letter following 802.11 indicates the version of the standard.

Up until this point, consumer routers have mainly used 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n, which are usually listed as 'b,' 'g' and 'n' on product packaging. You'll also see 802.11a support on some routers, but don't confuse that with 802.11ac.

In each newer Wi-Fi standard, speed and range increase. Plus, there are new encryption methods for security, new frequencies and plenty of other complex behind-the-scenes technology.

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