Clearpath’s Blog on IT Infrastructure, Hybrid Clouds and IT Security

Why Wi-Fi? 802.11AC

Posted by Ramon Thomas on Thu, Jun 05, 2014 @ 11:08 AM
Over time we have seen many innovations around the product offerings surrounding 802.11 technologies. Each new advance in technology requires a shift in both focus and training. Deployment methodologies constantly adjust as companies invest in enhancing their internal corporate wireless networks. 802.11ac Wave 1 is the latest rendition of the ever changing IEEE standards. 802.11ac has affectionately been deemed “Super Wi-Fi” by the general public.These types of technology shifts leave some business struggling to understand the impacts to ongoing operations. Indeed, Wi-Fi allows for organizations to tap into the increasingly more popular mobile device product lines, but what about functionality, sustainability, and security of your Wi-Fi system? These factors come to the forefront as wireless devices become more business critical. There is a direct correlation between Wi-Fi stability and the radio frequency environments where devices will operate. This is a critical relationship, especially within urban environments. Therefore, companies contact Clearpath professional services to provide the following radio frequency related services in order to ensure functionality, sustainability, and, of course, security. 
  • Site Surveys
  • Coverage Remediation
  • Path / Fresnel zone Analysis
  • Spectrum Analysis and Rogue Network Mitigation
As a trusted advisor for our clients, we consistently leverage industry best practices for implementation of Wi-Fi solutions. As 802.11ac becomes more popular amongst manufacturers, organizations are often befuddled by the amount of work necessary to deploy an 802.11ac capable wireless network. At times, these entities decide to leverage internal IT staff to finalize the wireless deployment. On occasion this leads to inconsistent implementations that do not live up to their potential. Traditional IT staff may not have the time to conduct all the mandatory activities to implement a stable wireless deployment. Additionally, there may be a significant learning curve with regards to understanding key facets of the wireless deployment, such as:
  • Access Point Location and Radio Antenna Placement
  • 802.1x and Active Directory Integration
  • Dynamic Channel Allocation
  • 5 GHz Channel bonding
  • Dynamic frequency selection
  • Spectrum Optimization
  • Radio Resource Management
  • Roaming/sticky client Mitigation
  • Adhering to compliance standards

These are just a few of the integral implementation tasks that will impact the health and functionality of your corporate wireless network.

During this year at the Cisco Live San Francisco conference, it was emphasized that the FCC is in the process of expanding the amount of channels that the general public can use for wireless communication on the 5GHz band. This will allow channel bonding at rates up to 160MHz. Cisco has already positioned its wireless product line to utilize this new portion of the spectrum with the 3700 series access points. 

This means that wireless communication will no longer be throttled at the already amazing theoretical maximum throughput of 1.75Gbps on 802.11ac Wave 1. The new theoretical maximum is set to a blazing 3.5Gbps.  These maximums are only achieved in near perfect radio frequency atmospheres. That is why it is necessary to conduct the proper radio frequency analysis tasks at each site prior to deployment. Even after all of those preparations, the wireless client devices that are being used will have variable results based upon a multitude of factors such as the individual client capability.

In past experience, a typical client will usually experience between 50% – 67% of the theoretical maximum. This is mostly due to wireless being a half-duplex medium. This fact is also changing as MIMO technology has advanced to provide a full duplex like functionality with the transition from SU-MIMO to MU-MIMO.  A great comparison of this enhancement to wireless networks is to compare it to the evolution from the standard hub to the current switch technology. 

The following chart provides some perspective as to how this additional throughput compares to other technologies in the 802.11 past.

 Why Wi Fi 802.11AC resized 600

Imagine what your phone or tablet could do with that much available throughput? What new apps will become available when data rates appear to be infinite? How will video conferencing and streaming video be enhanced? 

Well …. We are all about to find out, so ask yourself: are you ready?

Topics: Cisco UCS, Security, Wi-Fi

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