Aruba Tech Webinar Q&A “Fact vs. Fiction: 802.11ac”

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We have compiled webinar Q&A chat window, with answers of course, and wanted to share with all. Thanks to all who joined the webinar. For a copy of the presentation, please see our knowledge base.

Still got more questions? Please post them here or to Wireless LAN discussion forums. You can also find a copy of our 802.11ac FAQ at our knowledge base.

Q: As good as wireless standards have become, there is still greater trust and reliance for physical cabling. Is there an expectation for 802.11 standards to replace 802.3 (ethernet) as as THE trusted primary connection mechanism?

A: Ethernet connectivity at the edge is here to say for a very long time for few reasons. Access points have to connect to the wired portion of the network - whether that happens after 2-3 hops of wireless mesh, time will tell. Secondly, not all peripheral devices at the edge will be Wi-Fi enabled; there will always be devices that require Ethernet connection. Last but not least, Wi-Fi will always be a shared medium where the available bandwidth over the air is shared among many devices. Switching capability within Ethernet will always help Wi-Fi mesh links and access points to deliver highest performance possible at the edge of the network. Given where the world is going though, it is obvious that access networks will be PRIMARILY wireless - wireless everywhere, wired where you must. We are not too far away from seeing <1 port per user on average in enterprise access networks.

Q: What kind of speeds/distances can we expect for .11ac wireless bridges?

A: Highest possible rates will require shorter distances such as <50ft with good line of sight. This range will improve significantly with the arrival of beamforming on 11ac products.

Q: Will 802.11ac require hardware upgrade?

A: Both first and second generation of 802.11ac access point products will require hardware upgrade.

Q: Why do vendors offer 802.11ac products if it is not standard yet?

A: At this point in the development of the standard, no major changes are expected.

Q: Should we be dropping a minimum of 2 wires for each AP as we plan for this?

A: Not in the short term (2-3 years). With the arrival of 2nd generation of 802.11ac products, certain sections in your wireless LAN (where high density of 11ac mobile devices can be present), there might be a need for >1Gbps Ethernet connectivity. It is not realistic to assume that "all" 11ac access points will require two Ethernet drops. Of course, if you are running 10/100 to the access points today, it is definitely recommended to upgrade them to 10/100/1000 with 802.3at (PoE+).

Q: How about roaming between an 11n AP and an 11ac AP and an 11ad AP in the same network?

A: Cannot say much about 11ad, but roaming between 11n and 11ac AP should be seamless as 11ac mobile devices and access points are supposed to be backward compatible with 11n.

Q: When do you think this technology will be widespread?

A: ~2015 is when most analysts are expecting widespread adoption.

Q: What advantages will be seen using an "n" adapter with an "ac" access point?

A: Primarily, availability of more airtime. As 11ac clients connect to the AP and get their transfers completed faster, there will be more airtime for 11n/g/a clients to share. Additional antennas on the 11ac APs might also help with the reliability of the upload and download data transfers in certain environments.

Q: What was the acceptance speed (time to Critical Mass) that was seen with 802.11n?

A: It took a little over three years for 802.11n to hit critical mass. Our first deployment of 11n was in late 2007.

Q: If the channels are made at 80 or 160 MHz, won't we have channel conflict in large campuses?

A: For higher density applications, the recommendation will be to use 80MHz and less channels to avoid conflict. Much like we recommend 20MHz today for very high density deployments.

Q: Will 802.11ac be applicable in the 3.6-3.7GHz band that is a part of the 802.11-2012 refresh?

A: No, 802.11ac is not currently planned for the 3.6-3.7GHz band.

Q: Will the existing 600, 3000, and M3 series controller be capable of supporting GCMP or will hardware upgrades be required?

A: Yes, our existing controllers will support 802.11ac products with a software upgrade.