7 Reasons You Need 802.11ac

Find out how the latest WiFi protocol can boost WLAN performance.

Do we really need 802.11ac? That's a question that my clients frequently ask me as they look into WLAN upgrades or plan new deployments. There are several benefits of the 802.11ac WiFi specification when compared to previous 802.11 protocols. But really what my clients want to know is whether they'll see a noticeable difference in 802.11ac WLAN compared to what they're using today.

In this slideshow, I'll cover seven reasons why the answer to that question can be a resounding "yes." I'll explain ways 802.11ac improved on previous specifications, but also point out specific use case situations where 802.11ac WiFi is far more likely to surpass 802.11n/g/a and b. The goal is for you to understand how 802.11ac can show meaningful WiFi improvements that could potentially improve the speed of business. As we all know, time is money. So whenever we can shave a few seconds off a process using new technology, we should do it as long as it's cost effective.

There are two types of 802.11ac technology:  Wave 1 was released in 2013 while enterprise-class products using the improved Wave 2 specification started showing up in early 2015. The primary differences between Wave 1 and Wave 2 have to do with the inclusion of multi-user MIMO, increased channel bonding choices, and the ability to use an additional spatial stream. All of features equate to increased speed or improved connectivity, as long as you have compatible hardware on both sides of the wireless connection. Given the choice today, there is very little reason to choose a Wave 1 product over a Wave 2 product unless the price difference between the two is significant.

As you evaluate the usefulness of 11ac in your environment, you also need to consider  environmental situations such as device types, physical locations, and types of obstructions that a wireless signal might incur. In some situations, you'll immediately see the benefits of the new specification. In other cases, you may not see a difference until later down the road. Because of this, you need to determine whether now is the right time to adopt 11ac -- or wait until the next the  generation of  WiFi technology comes out and leapfrogs what's available today.

(Image: tjasp/Pixabay)

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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