Dirk Gates, the Executive Chairman and Founder at Xirrus has an article out on Information Week’s Network Computing to help all you procrastinators out there who haven’t upgraded to 802.11ac. Specifically he has four recommendations to help ease the pain that any technology solution implementation can bring. Here they are:
Specify Your Device Support Requirements.
This simply means that your IT department “should specify that any new company purchases that connect to WiFi are 802.11ac enabled.” This way you have mobile devices on the network that can actually take advantage of the faster speeds.
Look for Alternatives to Replacing WLAN Equipment.
This means look for WiFi networks with modular access points. That way you can simply switch out the radio and software upgrades and then voila, you’re upgraded to the latest standard! That helps you avoid the cost and pain of ripping out and replacing entire networks of APs.
Implement Traffic Segmentation.
Here’s a description of the problem from the article:
WiFi devices vary in size and type. Those enabled with legacy WiFi standards operate at slower speeds than those with 802.11ac. Mixing different client types on the same network creates significant performance bottlenecks. Like a slow moving truck on a highway that cars are unable to steer around or pass, slower devices impede the performance of faster devices.
The solution, segmentation, means separating faster mobile devices from slower mobile devices by putting them on different radios, which should “help alleviate” those nasty “traffic jams.” That way 11ac capable mobile devices will be able to operate closer to their advertised speeds, “independent of slower devices.”
Plan for the Next Wireless Standard.
With six wireless standards in the last 14 years, you can bet that 802.11 will continue to evolve, forcing you to change as well. Gates believes that a good WiFi network should “control network operations such as channel selection, roaming decisions, and spectrum use to further improve WiFi performance and reliability.” a solution with those characteristics will go a long way towards helping prepare you for 802.11ax in his opinion.
In my opinion, a lot more goes into planning for the next wireless standard than just an intelligent, semi-autonomous WiFi network. For example, what frequency will be used will impact things like AP placement, which means future-proofing will get a lot more complicated if the future standard has a different frequency than the current one you are investing in. Nevertheless, it is important to consider what comes next as you implement the latest standards so that you can save yourself cash and potential heartache later.
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