Wireless LAN: 802.11ac and 802.11ad

With 802.11n deployment well under way, enterprises are beginning to eye gigabit wireless LAN.

IEEE standards 802.11ac and 802.11ad (still in working group) both aim to provide gigabit speed wireless LAN in different channels. 802.11ac is chartered to deliver throughput at frequencies under 6 GHz–or the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands (and perhaps 900 MHz too), lending itself to easier migration from 802.11n. Meanwhile, 802.11ad will employ the same underlying technologies over the unlicensed 60 GHz band at a much shorter-range transmission.

The truth about the 802.11ac and throughput

It was just last year that vendors touted next-generation products that increased data rates to 802.11n’s 600 Mpbs from 802.11a/g’s 54 Mbps. By the end of 2012, In-Stat expects to see products based on draft 802.11ac top 1 Gbps. And that’s just the beginning of the potential. By the time the IEEE finalizes 802.11ac and its shorter-range sibline 802.11ad, max data rates will reach 7 Gbps – another order of magnitude.

But these max rates have to be taken in perspective. In the real world, 802.11a/g throughput maxed out around 30Mbps, declining with distance between AP and station. Similarly, real world 802.11n throughput stops well short of 300 Mbps for today’s 3×3 MIMO APs using 40 MHz channels.

802.11ac APs will likely start with 4×4 MIMO (Multiple input, multiple output) antennas, according to Aerohive Networks director Matthew Gast. Due to coding and error correction improvements, 4×4 MIMO 802.11ac will have a max data rate of 867 Mbps when using the same channel width and number of streams. Thus, by the end of next year, APs based on 802.11ac draft will double your throughput.

Video: 802.11ac, BYOD, and high-density Wi-Fi…let’s discuss

Matthew Gast, Director of Product Management at Aerohive Networks and TMCnet’s Rich Tehrani caught up at Interop 2013 in Las Vegas. The pair talked about a number of hot topics: 802.11ac and Matthew’s upcoming book, 802.11ac: A Survival Guide, which is due out this summer and focuses on the upcoming gigabit Wi-Fi standard. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and how planning for the widespread usage of person Wi-Fi devices is affecting most organizations. Density – more devices are coming on Wi-Fi, creating a network density problem. How do organizations manage high-density Wi-Fi scenarios?