Can Wave 2 handle the wireless tsunami heading toward us?

More people and devices are connecting, increasing the load on networks enormously and forcing us to consider new wireless standards, such as 802.11ac (Wave 2).

Can Wave 2 handle the wireless tsunami heading toward us?

There seems to be a shift in our industry from wireless 802.11n  to 802.11ac, as we have seen large leaps forward in bandwidth and client-saturation handling. With more wireless options in use in the workplace, widespread connectivity continues to rise and wireless requirements are becoming greater and greater.

Now, with Wave 2 becoming more common, is 802.11ac really able to handle the tsunami-like wave of wireless internet requests to meet this growing demand?

There's only one way to find out. We need to step out of the comfort zone provided by past wireless technologies and expand the idea of what wireless is capable of providing to meet these demands.

Many people believe 802.11ax, the next standard in wireless LANs, can fulfill their wireless demands. A characteristic of AX is orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA). This takes the ideas of MU-MIMO, or talking to more than one client device at once, and explodes it out hundreds of times. But getting 6.8 Gigs from your access point (AP) in the ceiling back to your switch in the closet is going to be difficult, so we're going to have to mitigate some of these changes. This is where Wave 2 802.11ac may be the answer.

Wave 2 802.11ac AP products

Now that 802.11ac access points address these faster speeds and performance requirements, we are starting to see the rollout the Wave 2 802.11ac AP products.

HPE/Aruba’s 802.11ac Wave 2 access points offer extra features — multi-user MIMO and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) being some of the most notable — but they also allow users to take advantage of the new IEEE 802.3bz standard for multi-gig Ethernet.  

HPE Smart Rate multi-gig Ethernet allows the possibility of high-speed connections — up to 10GbE over existing cabling infrastructure — as well as power over Ethernet for 802.11ac Wave 2 devices.

Pairing a Wave 2 access point with a switch port capable of multi-gig gives you the potential for increased speeds while also powering those devices. Smart Rate essentially auto-negotiates the connections (after the programming is complete on both ends, of course) and will attempt four connections each at 10 gig, 5 gig, 2.5 gig and gig until it can make a connection at the fastest speed possible.

As more people and devices become connected and the way we interact with and control those devices changes, the load on our networks will only increase — almost to tsunami proportions. We need to break away from past wireless limitations and innovate. Wireless 802.11ac may be the first big step in the right direction. Only time will tell.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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