Posts Tagged ‘802.11ac’

To say Wi-Fi is hot is as big an understatement as saying that A-Rod is a cheater. Everyone knows it’s true, but it’s bigger than most people think. In a joint ZK Research/Tech Target Network Purchase Intention Survey that was run near the end of 2013, Wi-Fi ranked as the No. 2 in priority for network managers, behind only the red-hot security market.

The primary driver of Wi-Fi is, of course, the influx of millions of consumer devices into the workplace, which means the wireless network needs to be expanded and made denser. Deciding to deploy more Wi-Fi is an easy decision, but deciding on whether to stick with N or to deploy AC may not be easy. One would think that shifting to AC, the newest standard, is a no brainer; however there are a number of challenges that need to be dealt with in order to have a successful 802.11AC deployment.

One of my favorite holiday poems starts something like “Twas the week before Christmas and all through the air, the IEEE was stirring to ensure 802.11ac would be there.” I say this because the wave 1 version of the next-generation Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, was ratified last week. Given the impending ratification, many network managers are now asking, “should I deploy 802.11ac or should I just stick with tried and true 802.11n?” Well, there’s no right answer, so I thought I would go through some points network managers should considering before making the decision to AC or not to AC.

The first consideration is to understand the technology itself and what’s different about AC versus the current specification. 802.11ac is the next generation of Wi-Fi and extends many of the features introduced with the 802.11n specification. This is similar to the shift when the industry went from b to a/g.

802.11ac will be backwards compatible with previous versions of Wi-Fi allowing for a gradual migration away from legacy devices, although many new features will be available on non-AC devices. The technology brings gigabit speeds to wireless for the first time through the use of more antennas, wider channels and more special streams, as wells as a number of new features such as beam forming and better signal-to-noise ratio to greatly improve performance.

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