802.11ac Wave 2: Sooner Than You Think, Part 2

Xirrus’ recent almost-announcement is a further indication that Wave 2 is going to get started in the market this year.

It’s been over a year since I posted in these pages my prediction that Wave 2 would be a sooner-rather-than-later phenomenon in the marketplace. OK, no Wave 2 products yet, but we’re getting closer. Xirrus recently announced that they will begin taking orders for Wave 2 modules that will ship in 2015. Xirrus’ arrays are field-upgradable and I expect the process to be straightforward. I categorize announcements such as these as “almost” because (a) there’s no firm ship date, and (b) no announced pricing. Neither of these are problems because (a) everyone knows that Wave 2 is coming in 2015, and (b) even announced prices are always negotiable.

The release also notes that Xirrus expects that “nearly half of all new Wi-Fi devices” are expected to ship with .11ac by the end of 2014. We call that 50% number “critical mass”, and the end of 2014 would be at least six months ahead of our initial forecast of the second half of 2015. I’m happy to be wrong here, and I continue to recommend that all new enterprise-class installations be based on .11ac.

As for the (list) pricing of Wave 2-based products, our research indicates an initial premium over Wave 1 of about 25%. We expect that difference to drop to near zero after one year, based on competition and the fact that Wave 2 sales will eclipse those of Wave 1 (again, our forecast) by the end of 2016. That’s more than two years from now, so, again, we don’t recommend any delay in current required purchases in advance of the availability of the next generation. Such delay is usually inadvisable in IT, as gaining ROI in the form of improved productivity from current technologies is usually the best path forward, as opposed to waiting for the next latest and greatest or making due with the inadequate. Regardless, Wave 2 will indeed happen sooner rather than later, and I’m looking forward to trying a few of these products as soon as they, and their corresponding client devices, are available. And that subscriber-unit availability issue is the real challenge in realizing the full potential of Wave 2.

Finally, I’ve been absent for over a month here. Network World cut over to a new content management system, which required a slight learning curve on my part, and, hey, it’s summer. But I’ve also been really busy with projects here, and things are now beginning to level off a bit. So, hopefully I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule (an entry or two a week) from this point forward. I apologize for the delay.

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