Introduction to 802.11ac

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First of all, happy new year everyone!

Our first blog of 2012 is about 802.11ac. As you might already know, we have published the first version of our 802.11ac FAQ in our knowledge base.

We get a lot of questions about this new upcoming Wi-Fi standard and I thought it would be a good idea to talk to our in-house expert at Aruba on the topic. Here is a video of that conversation with Peter Thornycroft, aka. pthornycroft, a member of Aruba Networks Office of the CTO.

To summarize, here are the top-3 things you need to be aware of when it comes to 802.11ac.

1. 802.11ac means more speed

802.11n supports up to 40MHz channel bonding and up to 4 spatial streams. 802.11ac will support up to 160MHz channel bonding and up to 8 spatial streams. Note that this performance increase depends on the capabilities of the Wi-Fi client; due to battery life restrictions, many mobile devices may not support top 802.11ac transmission rates. Possible use of beam forming and multi-user MIMO will further improve the performance and reliability of an 802.11ac enabled WLAN.

2. 802.11ac is 5GHz only

Wi-Fi clients will need to operate in 5GHz frequency band, need to be enabled with 802.11ac capable Wi-Fi chipsets and need to communicate with a 802.11ac capable AP in order to take advantage of the increased speeds. As Peter mentioned, we expect newer generation of dual-radio enterprise WLAN access points (AP) to be 802.11b/g/n capable on the 2.4GHz frequency band and 802.11a/n/ac capable on the 5GHz frequency band.

3. 802.11ac will require new client/AP hardware

802.11ac technology cannot be implemented on existing 802.11n based Wi-Fi chipsets, and hence it will require new Wi-Fi client and AP hardware. In addition, greater number of antennas are required to support greater number of spatial streams allowed with 802.11ac. As you might remember, number of antennas on a Wi-Fi client or an AP needs to be greater or equal to the number of spatial streams that it supports.

Hope this answers some of your questions on 802.11ac - let us know of any additional questions, comments.

Talk you next time, thanks for tuning in!