What Is WiFi Speed?
Before we explain how to increase speed of WiFi networks, we first need to go over what WiFi speed really is. WiFi speed, typically stated in megabits per second (Mbit/s), corresponds to the rate at which data packets can be transferred in a given direction between the user and the WiFi router.
The communication protocol used in most routers and consumer electronic devices is IEEE 802.11. The base version of this protocol was released in 1997, and several revisions have been released since then, each introducing a variety of improvements, including a higher maximum WiFi speed.
The three most used revisions of the IEEE 802.11 protocol are IEEE 802.11g-2003, IEEE 802.11n-2009, IEEE 802.11ac.
- IEEE 802.11g-2003 – commonly shortened to 802.11g, is the oldest revision of the IEEE 802.11 protocol that you’re likely to still encounter in the wild. It offers a maximum WiFi speed of up to 54 Mbit/s using the 2.4 GHz band.
- IEEE 802.11n-2009 – commonly shortened to 802.11n, this revision of the IEEE 802.11 protocol introduced MIMO, which stands for multiple input and multiple outputs, and allows for the use of multiple antennas to increase data rates. 802.11n offers a maximum WiFi speed of 600 Mbit/s.
- IEEE 802.11ac – commonly shortened to 802.11ac, this revision of the IEEE 802.11 protocol introduced the ability to provide high-throughput wireless local area networkson the 5 GHz band, increasing the maximum throughput to 1 Gbit/s.
In practice, however, it’s sometimes useful to blur the distinction between WiFi speed and download/upload speed. There are many factors besides the underlying protocol that can influence your WiFi speeds, and they are what you should pay attention to if you’re wondering how to increase speed of WiFi routers.