Throughput Analysis of IEEE 802.11ac and IEEE 802.11n in a Residential Home Environment

Throughput Analysis of IEEE 802.11ac and IEEE 802.11n in a Residential Home Environment

Zawar Shah (Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Auckland, New Zealand) and Ashutosh Kolhe (Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Auckland, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/IJITN.2017010101
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Abstract

IEEE 802.11ac is the latest WiFi standard that operates in 5GHz frequency band and promises high data rate than IEEE 802.11n. In this paper, the authors carry out experiments using commercial off-the-shelf equipment in a typical home environment and quantify the gain provided by IEEE 802.11ac compared to IEEE 802.11n. Their experimental results obtained in a typical home environment show that in 5GHz frequency band with a 2x2 MIMO configuration, IEEE 802.11ac provides much higher throughput than IEEE 802.11n. IEEE 802.11ac provides an average throughput gain of 94% and 91% at a distance of 3.6m and 8.5m from the wireless router, respectively. The authors further investigate the gain in average throughput that is provided by IEEE 802.11ac when the transmit antenna diversity on the wireless router is increased from two to three. They note that IEEE 802.11ac with a 3x2 MIMO configuration helps to combat multipath fading effect present in residential home environment and provides higher average throughput than 2x2 MIMO e.g. at a distance of 11m from the wireless router, 3x2 MIMO configuration provides a gain of 15.13% than the 2x2 MIMO configuration. The authors conclude based on their results (obtained via experiments in a typical home environment) that although IEEE 802.11ac wireless routers are more expensive than IEEE 802.11n wireless routers however, high throughput provided by IEEE 802.11ac justifies the high cost associated with its routers.
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1. Introduction

Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) based on the IEEE 802.11n networks are hugely popular and widely deployed in residential environments. Availability of many Wi-Fi enabled devices (e.g. smart phones) enable the users to use multimedia applications (e.g. streaming music and movie videos) from the comfort of their homes. The demand for multimedia content is increased because of the popularity of streaming services such as You Tube, Netflix etc. (Saleh, Shah, & Baig, 2013; Saleh, Shah, & Baig, 2015; Akbar, Saleem, Khaliq et al., 2014). Also many home users demand High Definition (HD) videos that further increase the need of high data rate. To meet this increase in demand of high data rate IEEE 802.11ac standard is proposed (Ong. et al., 2011; Perahia, & Stacey, 2013; Vaughan, & Steven, 2010).

IEEE 802.11ac is the fifth generation WiFi standard that has many new and advanced features than the previous IEEE 802.11n standard. IEEE 802.11ac only uses 5GHz frequency band unlike IEEE 802.11n that uses both frequency bands of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. IEEE 802.11ac supports 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) which is not present in IEEE 802.11n. Also, 80MHz channel width is mandatory for IEEE 802.11ac which is different than IEEE 802.11n that supports a mandatory channel width of 20MHz. Another difference is that IEEE 802.11ac supports 8 spatial streams which are more than IEEE 802.11n that supports only 4 (Ong. et al., 2011; Perahia, & Stacey, 2013; Vaughan, & Steven, 2010). With all these features IEEE 802.11ac promises higher data rate than IEE 802.11n. However, IEEE 802.11ac enabled wireless routers are much costlier than the IEEE 802.11n routers (Smith, 2013). This price difference may make the IEEE 802.11ac unattractive to home users. If IEEE 802.11ac provides much higher data rate than IEEE 802.11n then spending more money on deploying IEEE 802.11ac in home environment may seem justified to home users. Therefore, it is of utmost important to clearly analyze and compare the performance of both standards in a typical home environment. Another important factor to analyze is the effect on average throughput by increasing transmit diversity on the wireless router. More number of antennas are recommended on the wireless routers than the wireless devices because of issues associated with cost and power (Mihovska, & Prasad, 2009). It is interesting to anlayze the effect of increasing transmit diversity in a residential home environment that provides a complex multipath fading environment.

Many studies exist in the current literature that carry out throughput analysis of WiFi standards in an indoor environment (Narayan, Jayawardena, Wang, Ma, & Geetu, 2015; Shah, Rau & Baig, 2015; Dama et al., 2011; Chen & Law, 2007; Zeng, Pathak & Mohapatra, 2015). Narayan et al. (2015) carry out experiments to compare throughput gain provided by IEEE 802.11ac compared to IEEE 802.11n over both UDP and TCP. In (Shah et al., 2015), performance analysis of both IEEE 802.11ac and IEEE 802.11n is carried out in an indoor environment with interference. Dama et al. (2011) carry out experiments in an indoor environment and compare the throughput obtained by IEEE 802.11n network in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Experiments are also performed in (Chen & Law, 2007) to measure the throughput obtained by IEEE 802.11b network. Similarly, in (Zeng et al., 2015) authors carry out experiments to study the impact of larger channel width in IEEE 802.11ac on energy efficiency and interference.

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