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How to deploy 802.11ac

Date: Jan 6, 2014

Category: Blog

Guest blog: Gregor Vucajnk, Aerohive

In this blog, I am going to explain why you should deploy 802.11ac in areas that need the extra speed today and simply scale your network as your speed requirements become more pervasive.

The debate
On one hand, there is a group of professionals that are arguing that first generation 802.11ac products are redundant, especially with the second-generation of 802.11ac products widely expected in late 2014:

1. 80 MHz channels don’t provide enough room for network wide capacity, especially in high-density areas so the designer will have to revert to 40 MHz or even 20 MHz to make it work.
2. 256QAM modulation is achieved only at close proximity of 802.11ac client to the AP.
3. 802.11ac end client devices are still scarce and the adoption level low. It does take two to tango, right?
4. 802.11n products still cater for the majority of needs out there. 

The other group is advocating wide adoption of the 802.11ac standard for its overall contribution to performance and for future growth protection. Even in 40 MHz channel width, the 802.11ac-to-802.11ac significantly outperforms 802.11n* stations.

Contrary to the common interpretation, it is not necessary that the peak rate performance is the motivator behind the story, but the idea is that stations communicating at high data rates will occupy the channel less. Less channel utilization leads to better overall performance on dense networks, resulting in lower latency, less jitter and overall bigger smiles on the end user faces.

Secondly, there is measurable gain in distance-to-performance ratio in comparing to 802.11n. Also the 802.11ac chipsets are never, faster, more powerful and with overall better capability for providing additional AP functionalities.

 My take on the argument

1. 802.11ac products, even in the first generation, are awesome and will perform better than last generation 802.11n products.
2. A properly designed and maintained 802.11n-based network is able to cater for the vast majority of needs for years to come.


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