It’s time for a paradigm shift in your Wi-Fi network

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In the surfing world, there was a paradigm shift around '67 to '70 when the shortboard was born, a board that allowed riders to harness the massive power of the wave near the curl. While the longboard allowed generations of surfers to ride the shoulder of a wave for good distances, the shortboard opened up the sport to a faster pace with new maneuvers possible by opening up access to faster turns and the possibility of that enviable feeling of "getting barreled".

In the Wi-Fi world, we are at that stage now where the power of the 802.11ac wave 2 features with its MU-MIMO ability to send data to multiple clients simultaneously, can be harnessed as Wave 2 clients come to market. To date, there have only been a small number of clients available recently (about 40 devices) and I believe that as we saw with the original 802.11ac Wave 1 features, the availability of an interoperability certification program from the Wi-Fi Alliance will drive the growth in numbers of client devices in the coming months. Thanks to the Wi-Fi Alliance members support, we already have over 2400(!) devices certified with the original set of wave 1 features. Now we are set to see the revised program with the new wave 2 features help drive interoperability and boost your networks' performance.

It is an exciting time with the Wi-Fi Alliance announcing today, June 29th, the availability of the new Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac program with wave 2 features that is based on a subset of the IEEE 802.11ac specification.

The new features that are part of the updated certification program are:

  • Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) – I believe this is the key feature with wave 2 as it will boost network utilization by allowing, for the first time, an access point to transmit to multiple MU-MIMO capable clients at the same time
  • 160 MHz channels – while this has the potential to double speeds, I don't expect enterprises to be able to leverage it since there are only two channels available for use so interference would be an issue for channels this wide in a typical multi-AP deployment
  • 4 spatial streams (4SS) – the 4th stream can give us a 33% boost and will work best when combined with MU-MIMO to transmit more streams to multiple clients
  • Extended 5GHz channel support – increases the number of available channels

Now you may be wondering where you can find a list of devices that are Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac with the new wave 2 features such as MU-MIMO.

»»  View Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac devices with MU-MIMO here  ««

To get your network ready for the boom in wave 2 capable client devices, start considering your network upgrade plans with the Aruba 330 Series, Aruba 320 Series, and Aruba 310 Series 802.11ac wave 2 access points by selecting based on performance, density and price to meet your network needs. We have a full portfolio including Wave 2 (3xx models) and Wave 1 (2xx models), including our 270 Series for outdoor environments where the typical lack of reflection limits the benefit and need for MU-MIMO.

Figure 1: Aruba offers a versatile portfolio of 802.11ac access points

»»  Learn more about our 802.11ac access point portfolio here  ««