AirPort: Slow 802.11n connection speed when connected using older WEP or WPA security mechanisms

Learn what to do if you have wirelessly connected your 802.11n-capable computer or other device to your 802.11n router or Wi-Fi Base Station and you notice that your data rate will not go above 54 Mbps.

You may notice that if you have wirelessly connected your 802.11n-capable computer or other device to your 802.11n router or Wi-Fi Base Station that your data rate will not go above 54 Mbps (megabits per second) despite the fact that you appear to have a strong signal.  This should only occur if your router or Wi-Fi Base Station password authentication type is WEP or WPA.This behavior is normal. It happens because the maximum transfer rate for 802.11n using WEP or WPA (TKIP) authentication is 54 Mbps, as specified in the IEEE 802.11n standard.

To allow the maximum 802.11n rates, ensure that your router or Wi-Fi Base Station is configured to use WPA2 or, alternatively, no password. For security purposes, it is recommended that you select WPA2 Personal when configuring your Wi-Fi Base Station.

Note: AirPort Utility will not allow you to select WEP or WPA as an 802.11n option. It will only let you select WPA/WPA2 Personal or WPA2 Personal for general home use.

  • WPA/WPA2 Personal will provide the fastest 802.11n rate for unicast data (directed to one device, such as a computer), though multicast data (multiple devices) will be 54 Mbps.
  • WPA2 Personal provides the best 802.11n rates and is the recommended option.

Important: For third–party routers, please verify the correct configuration. Some third–party devices may not be able to support WPA2. Consult with the manufacturer for more information. If you have your network configured to use no security or WPA2 and you are still seeing a maximum rate of 54 Mbps, the issue may be related to your configuration or external influences such as poor signal strength or radio frequency interference.

 

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