Should you Invest in Wave 2 802.11ac In 2015?

Should you Invest in Wave 2 802.11ac In 2015Jon Gold at Network World has an article out titled “How Not to Waste Your Money on the Second Wave of 802.11ac Wireless Gear” that purports to help you do just what it says. His recommendations, however, boil down to something that WLAN solution providers won’t like hearing: don’t buy wave 2, and if someone brings a mobile device that is wave 2 compatible onto your network, don’t go out of your way to cater to them, because there won’t be that many.

Gold explains his position by listing some of the issues surrounding wave 2 implementation. For example, Cat-5 cabling will no longer cut it, and you will need to put in brand new Cat-6 or Cat-7 cabling to even get close the advertised wireless speeds. That may cost you way more than than the new WLAN APs. Cisco does claim to have a solution to this conundrum, in cooperation with the NBASE-T Alliance. Nonetheless, I haven’t seen this tech deployed yet in a commercial environment, and Gold remains skeptical that Cisco’s tech will solve all of wave 2’s implementation problems.

Another such problem is the increased power requirement for wave two equipment, which necessitates Power-over-Ethernet Plus (PoE+). Not many organizations have invested in the tech for PoE+, which could result in another round of expensive upgrades just to get close to advertised wave 2 speeds.

Finally, Gold says via his proxy Zeus Kerravala, another Network Worlder,  you have to ask yourself: do you really need it? With so few devices on the market that could actually utilize wave 2, the answer in their minds is clearly no.

I do think Gold raises valid concerns, but we also need to recognize that these problems won’t be universal. Not everyone is going to have to pay through the nose to put in Cat-6 or 7 cabling (much of the cost will depend on how easy or hard it is to install the cabling), nor is everyone slacking on implementing PoE+ (and you might have other valid business needs that require implementing PoE+ anyways). Finally, while not many mobile devices currently utilize wave 2, future proofing is a valid concern for many organizations, and wave 2 implementation could be a higher priority because of that, especially as 2015 wears on. So  while it is early, don’t discount wave 2 just yet.

 

Doug Atkinson
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