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An Introduction to 802.11ac from Fluke Networks

by Paige Looney on April 13, 2015


Newly adopted 802.11ac is the first Wi-Fi standard to address the challenges stressing previous Wi-Fi networks. Bogged down by devices, a high density of users, and bandwidth guzzling programs and applications, such as video streaming, 802.11ac will counter these hurdles with Gigabit speed. The maximum speed of data will more than double from current rates of 600Mbps to 1300Mbps, with a predicted future maximum of 6.93Gbps. Not only will data transfer faster for individual users, but networks will be able to accommodate more devices without a sacrifice in performance. 

 How will 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology achieve its raw speed increase?

  • More channel bonding, increased from the maximum of 40MHz in 802.11n, and now up to 80 and soon 160MHz
  • Denser modulation, now using 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), as compared to 802.11n's 64QAM
  • Higher number of spatial streams. 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology supports eight spatial streams, up from 802.11n’s four streams
  • Simplification of the transmit beamforming capability, that was first introduced with 802.11n

Design and Deployment

Instead of focusing on 1 to 1 replacement of existing 802.11n or legacy technologies, Fluke Networks suggestions defining a more specific migration strategy. Match your technology rollouts with business requirements, budgets and figure out the location and configuration of the APs to maximize coverage and performance. Along with planning your migration path, it is also important to consider the environment and future growth.

The design of 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology adds a number of additional considerations:

  • Measuring throughput is the only real indicator of performance 
    802.11ac builds on technologies introduced in 802.11n such as MIMO, beamforming, wider channels and additional spatial streams. Because of all these capabilities, signal strength is not a true indicator of WLAN performance
  • Your current 802.11a/n wireless environment adversely impacts 11ac performance 
    As noted above, 802.11ac is backwards compatible with 802.11n and 802.11a, and operates in a mixed mode environment supporting 802.11a/n/ac clients in the 5GHz band. Performance for 802.11ac clients may be adversely impacted because of slower transmission rates by 802.11a/n clients.
  • Developing channel allocation is critical to maximizing performance in a 802.11ac Wi-Fi network 
    802.11ac introduces 80MHz and 160MHz wide channel operation which enables higher throughput. The use of wider channels in 802.11ac increases the likelihood of co-channel interference and this adversely impacts performance.

Find out more by watching Fluke Network's University 802.11ac - An  Introduction & Market Drivers: By Fluke Networks and by visiting Fluke's 802.11ac University for more information, resources, and webinars.

For more information on 802.11ac or to discuss using Fluke Networks in your next installation, please contact your local Accu-Tech representative today! You can also find Fluke Networks products on eAccu-Tech.

Topics: Fluke Networks 802.11ac

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