Next Generation Wi-Fi – What 802.11ac Means to You


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The next generation in wireless networking, 802.11 ac, is here. It goes faster, delivers better throughput and it's more secure. Now is the time to decide whether deploying this new Wi-Fi solution makes sense for your needs as a business.

Frontier Communications and Adtran as discussed what 802.11 ac can mean for your organization and your bring-your-own-device strategy:
-What are the true advantages?
-What makes 802.11 ac different?
-Where should you use it?
-What's the difference between Wave One and Wave Two 802.11 ac?

Published in: Technology

Next Generation Wi-Fi – What 802.11ac Means to You

  1. 1. Next Generation Wi-Fi – What 802.11ac Means to You 1
  2. 2. Our Speakers 2 Chris Koeneman Vice President, Bluesocket Business Group of ADTRAN Bill Fuesz Director, Frontier
  3. 3. * • Wireless connectivity to the AP will approach 1 gigabit per second • Wi-Fi Alliance announced certification program in June 2013 • 802.11ac amendment to 802.11-2012 standard is currently in Draft 7, full ratification expected 1st half of 2014 • Standard has been sufficiently stable such that Wi-Fi chipsets are available to access point manufacturers who have introduced consumer and enterprise access points • 802.11ac is a great example of how Wi-Fi continues to improve and remain relevant 802.11ac is Coming 3
  4. 4. The So What: Greater Speeds How are the greater speeds achieved with 802.11ac? These advancements will happen waves; not all at the same time 4 Protoc ol Year Introduce d Maximum Data Transfer Speed Frequenc y Highest Order Modulatio n Channel Bandwidt h Antenna Configuratio n 802.11a 1999 54 Mbps 5 GHz 64 QAM 20 MHz 1x1 SISO 802.11b 1999 11 Mbps 2.4 GHz 11 CCK 20 MHz 1x1 SISO 802.11g 2003 54 Mbps 2.4 GHz 64 QAM 20 MHz 1x1 SISO 802.11n 2009 65 – 600 Mbps 2.4 or 5 GHz 64 QAM 20 and 40 MHz Up to 4x4 MIMO 802.11ac 2012 78 Mbps to 3.2 Gbps 5 GHz 256 QAM 20, 40, 80 and 160 MHz Up to 8x8 MIMO, MU- MIMO Denser Modulation More Channel Bonding Greater MIMO More Streams Simultaneou s MIMO support for multiple users The Evolution of the 802.11 Standard
  5. 5. 802.11ac Operates on 5Ghz  Less interference  More opportunities for channel bonding …that’s good ..but the drawback is less range (about 20%) 5
  6. 6. Anticipate What Will Happen With the Controller • As with 802.11n, more attention will be on the radio than the controller architecture, creating a d’oh moment • Many will overlook the need to upgrade the backplane of the controller to accommodate the higher speeds introduced by 802.11ac • The best step to take before introducing 802.11ac is to convert your WLAN to a distributed data plane • Don’t let ac stand for “another controller” – this can be the great hidden cost of 802.11ac 6
  7. 7. Other Stuff Can an 802.11 a/b/g/n AP be magically converted to an 802.11ac AP? No, 802.11ac is a different radio chip set. By the way, wave 1 is a different chip set than wave 2. It takes two to tango. 802.11ac can support current devices that operate in 5Ghz but the full potential of 802.11ac is realized when BOTH the device and AP support the standard. Device AP A future wave of 802.11ac will leverage two Ethernet ports. Think about the implication on your wired network. The price difference between ac and n (15% to 20% over 3x3:3 802.11n) will make n the dominant choice in 2014 in the enterprise. 7 802.11ac will exceed 1Gbs; but how can you go faster than that with this?
  8. 8. Exception to the 802.11ac AP Replacement Rule – One exception to new access point is Cisco 3600 11n with field upgradeable radio – The 802.11n radio chipset can be removed and replaced with an 802.11ac chipset – If you go this route, understand two things • Calculate the total cost (current AP with the removable chipset plus the cost of the new chipset • Note the CPU and memory as this may not be sufficient for optimal 802.11ac performance 8
  9. 9. Waves • Consumer grade 802.11ac access points and client devices started shipping in 2012 • Enterprise grade 802.11ac access points started shipping mid to late 2013 • Enterprise grade access points rely on radio chipsets from manufacturers such as Qualcomm Atheros and Marvell • Chipset vendors are delivering their technology in two distinct waves 9
  10. 10. Wave 1 – Available today – 5Ghz operation, moving away from crowded 2.4 GHz band – Backwards compatible with 802.11a/n – Up to 80 MHz channel width (Very High Throughput (VHT)) – 256 QAM modulation – Up to 3 spatial streams – Single User MIMO (SU-MIMO) AP can only transmit to 1 client at a time like a hub – Data rates up to 1.3 Gbps – Will be used in • Vanity upgrades • High user density environments • High throughput applications such as video and applications with large file transfers (CAD) 10
  11. 11. Wave 2 – Hardware chipsets arriving from chipset vendors late this year/early next – Adds the following: • Up to 160 MHz channel width • Multi User MIMO (MU-MIMO) AP can transmit to multiple clients at the same time (up to 4) like a switch • Standards based Transmit Beamforming (TxBF) – Focus radio frequency energy at the client • Data rates up to 3.5 Gbps – Will become the de-facto standard as chipset vendors switch production to 11ac, chipset prices reduce, and clients become prevalent 11
  12. 12. 11ac Wave 1 Infrastructure Requirements • Gigabit switchports – Theoretical data rates up to 1.3 Gbps which can translate to actual throughput of 50 to 60% in clean RF environment – Combined with 2.4 GHz 802.11n radio can add up to 700 to 900 mbps throughput • May require a switch upgrade • May require a wireless controller upgrade – Fix that by not using a physical wireless controller that concentrates the traffic • May require 802.3at (PoE+) – Many 802.11ac access points will operate on 802.3af but will lose functionality if not deployed on 802.3at (PoE+) 12
  13. 13. Example 802.11ac Access Point– Dual-radio • 5 GHz 802.11 a/n/ac • 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n – 3x3:3 – 1.3 Gbps for 5 GHz radio – 450 Mbps for 2.4 GHz – 1.75 Gbps total – Two gigabit Ethernet ports – Configurable maximum client limit per radio – no hard limit – Increased receive sensitivity for handheld devices such as iPhones and iPads that have a fraction of the transmit power than that of a laptop – Faster CPU/More Memory than previous generation – Powering – Fully functional with 802.3af (PoE) but also supports 802.3at (PoE+) – 12VDC – Antenna options • Internal antenna (2030) • 6 External antenna connectors (2035) – Dimensions: 6.5” x 6.5”, H 35 mm (1.5 in) – Environmental: • 0° C to +45° C – Limited Lifetime Warranty 13
  14. 14. What About LAN/WAN Bandwidth? • Faster speeds and more IP end- points may impact LAN/WAN resources – Consider the user experience – availability and performance of applications – Also consider reliability, security and scalability as part of overall performance • Optimize the LAN/WAN management and, if needed, add bandwidth to support cloud and mobile computing access through the WLAN 14
  15. 15. Summary Points • WLANs with distributed data planes are ideal for 802.11ac • 5GHz is less crowded by the range is less • Many 802.11ac APs will require POE+ for full operation • Both wave 1 and wave 2 802.11ac require physically different chip sets • Price difference between a 3x3:3 802.11n AP and a 3x3:3 802.11ac AP is 15% - 20% but this difference will narrow over time • Multi-user MIMO comes in wave 2 • 802.11ac deployment may impact LAN/WAN performance, so be prepared 15
  16. 16. For More Information • Chris Koeneman, ADTRAN – • Bill Fuesz, Frontier – • On the web: – – 16
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