Why 802.11ac? Why now?

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Lets face it, while 802.11ac devices are coming in faster than we expected, most of you still have hundreds and thousands of 11n devices on the network. And you will for quite a while.

Your dilemma is that you want investment protection by embracing the latest and greatest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, but you want to make sure it's the right time to invest in the new infrastructure. You are not alone! Talking to customers, I found three main questions when it comes to 802.11ac adoption.

  1. How many 11ac devices are really out there?
  2. What advantages does 802.11ac provide?
  3. Do 802.11ac APs carry a price premium?

Let's tackle each of these questions one at a time

How many 11ac devices are really out there

 There are some surprising stats here that we can look at. In the first month of availability, HTC sold over 5M HTC One smartphones. Samsung sold over 20M GALAXY S4s in the first two months of availability. Apple's MacBook Air is bound to show similar adoption rates. Add this to the roster of new 11ac devices from Motorola, LG and others and you can see that the trend is accelerating.

If you don't see these devices on your network yet, you will pretty soon. And until then, there are huge benefits to migrating to 11ac infrastructure. The truth is that even 11n devices stand to gain when connected to 11ac APs. The Aruba 11ac AP-220, for example, is the best performing 11n access point on the market. The AP-220 enhances performance and range of existing 11n devices by up to 3 times. Don't believe it? See here for some real world tests.

 What advantages does 802.11ac provide?

Wi-Fi is the primary network for access connectivity. This means more and more devices continue to connect to the Wi-Fi network every day. Bandwidth is no longer the driving force for newer Wi-Fi deployments; it's all about capacity. By speeding up the rates and optimizing the RF, 802.11ac ensures that devices can transmit and receive much faster than before. This frees up the channel making it available for more devices and hence effectively increasing the overall capacity for the network, especially useful in this BYOD world we are moving towards.

 Do 802.11ac APs carry a price premium?

 The short answer is, not really. If you make an objective comparison of price based on the number of megabits per second, at $0.74 per Mbps (1295/1750) for 802.11ac and $1.44 per Mbps (1295/900) for 802.11n for the AP-220 series, compared to Cisco 3600 at $1.14 and $ 1.66 respectively, it's easy to see why Aruba AP-220 is the best value for money, hands down.

When you take advantage of the trade-in promotions, the number is even lower.