How To Migrate to 802.11ac… Painlessly

How To Migrate to 80211ac PainlesslyExtreme Networks’ VP of Asia-Pacific and Japan, Gary Newbold has a few points of advice at TechDay.com for those about to transition to an 802.11ac WLAN solution.

First is for you to consider clients’ 802.11ac capability: “A faster access point will not be of any use unless an organisation has the capability to support it,” Newbold writes. I would expand on that point to add that you also need to consider whether the devices within your organization can take advantage of 11ac, and whether there an applications running on those devices that really need it. If yes is your answer to those questions, then go for it. If not, then maybe it’s time to put the brakes on the 11ac project for your organization.

Second, you’re going to have to do channel planning. Because 802.11ac wave one relies on 80 MHz wide channels to get much of its speed, versus 40 MHz for 802.11n, their are fewer 802.11ac channels available, which means that 802.11ac APs run the risk of interfering with each other if there is no channel planning. You will need to assess spectrum availability in the deployment environment in order to optimize the performance of your new network.

Third is managing 802.11ac’s 256 QAM. Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, or QAM, is a technique used to increase data transmission rates. 802.11ac uses 256 QAM, versus b/g/n’s 64. The result is an increase in throughput for 11ac, but also means that 11ac requires “more stringent conditions” for the network to work properly, such as “a clean RF environment and a greater signal-to-noise ratio.” The result of this result is that each user will need to be closer to an AP in order to get the benefit of 11ac, which means you will need to deploy more 11ac APs for the same area coverage you could get with N, albeit at faster speeds.That can, of course add to expense, and can also prevent an overlay strategy of simply switching out N APs with AC APs on a 1:1 basis on your WLAN from being as effective as you might hope. Knowing this ahead of time could save you some time and trouble when designing and implementing your 802.11ac WLAN Solution.

Getting your 802.11ac WLAN right is going to be very important, given the predicted flood of data and users onto such networks within the next few years. With these three nuggets of advice, hopefully you can get just that much closer to a network able to handle the upcoming deluge.

For Gary Newbold’s article at TechDay.com, click here.