802.11ac wave 2 is the splashy new kid in the wireless technology pool, but some experts caution that you might not want to let it play without lifeguards present just yet.\nWave 2 access points are now available from major wireless vendors, and have started to make inroads into the enterprise. The technology has been gaining ground in sales statistics recently, to the point where it\u2019s starting to undercut sales of first-gen 802.11ac gear.\n+ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: Study shows 802.11ac wave 2 APs gaining sales ground + US lawmakers question police use of facial recognition tech\nMuch of that has to do with the fact that it\u2019s the latest and greatest \u2013 some shops will simply buy wave 2 because it\u2019s the current cutting edge of wireless tech, and, obviously, that\u2019s not necessarily the wrong idea if budgets are lined up.\nBut it\u2019s unlikely that wave 2 technology, in and of itself, is something an enterprise really needs right now, according to some experts. The main issue is that, since there are almost no laptops, smartphones or other endpoints on the market right now that use wave 2, the most innovative features of the technology simply won\u2019t work.\nTom Carpenter is CTO of CWNP, a vendor neutral-enterprise wireless networking certification and training group. He said that smaller deployments, in particular, don\u2019t really need to move to wave 2.\n\u201c[T]he features introduced in Wave 2 just don\u2019t benefit them much - even enhancements in chipset sensitivity and such,\u201d he said.\nEven for larger setups, Carpenter added, the benefits are largely indirect, and not the product of brand-new features built into the new access points.\n\u201cThe point is that Wave 2 doesn\u2019t actually provide \u2018real\u2019 benefits to most deployments because it is Wave 2, but rather just because of incremental improvements that would have been realized even if it was Wave 1 but newer chipset and filter implementations,\u201d he told Network World.\nIndependent wireless networking consultant Omar Vazquez also warned that there are a lot of misconceptions about what wave 2 can currently accomplish.\n\u201cSadly, vendor marketing just serves to make things worse (speeds, channel width, the miraculous MU-MIMO, etc.)\u201d he said.\n\nHowever, both Carpenter and Vazquez agreed that it\u2019s also not necessarily a bad thing to have the latest in wireless gear. Vazquez noted that organizations don\u2019t buy new Wi-Fi equipment every day, after all.\n\u201c[W]hen you consider that the typical refresh cycle for network infrastructure is between three and five years (in some cases it could go all the way to seven years), then it makes sense for organizations to invest in the newest at the time,\u201d he said.\nAccording to Carpenter, the point isn\u2019t so much that wave 2 isn\u2019t worth it, it\u2019s more that it\u2019s important to know precisely what upsides it offers. Wave 2\u2019s much-vaunted MU-MIMO capability won\u2019t actually help most deployments very much, and the ability to use wider wireless channels isn\u2019t particularly useful.\n\u201cIn most deployments MU-MIMO will give a sub-1% performance boost,\u201d he said. \u201cAnd wider channels really should not be used,\u201d thanks to inefficient frequency re-use.\n802.11ac is also called Wi-Fi 5\nThe Wi-Fi Alliance has come up with some new names for some of the traditional IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standards in an attempt to make it simpler for the general public to differentiate among them.\nAs part of its new naming scheme, the alliance calls 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5. The other standards with new alliance names are 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) and 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4).