Lee H. Badman is one of our favorite wireless bloggers and you can read his stuff regularly at Network Computing. In a recent post he throws a whole lot of cold water on the excitement being generated for 802.11ac. According to Badman, “the fact is the next generation of wireless will require a whole bunch of wires and a whole lot of hardware. The 802.11ac standard does amazing things with radio waves and spectrum, but none of it matters without the right physical cables and reams of new switch configurations.”
In short, the new standard comes with some hidden costs that you may not be aware of. And Badman gets downright specific about those added elements, “The short version: 11ac will require two switch ports and two cable runs per access point. Simple AP uplinks now become port channels. Port channels need careful configuration, and can be a nightmare to troubleshoot should one of the four RJ-45 connectors involved with each 11ac port channel get cocked or not sit straight in its port.”
Now that is the bad news. The good news is that 802.11ac is strictly in the 5Ghz band, which is wider and less crowded than 2.4Ghz, and it also supports much higher speeds. Which you are going to need as the crush of mobile devices continues to expand and demand more from you wireless network. So take a quick cold shower, but plan to dry off in the next 12 months because This is not really a question of whether you are going to implement 802.11ac – it’s just a question of when.
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