8 Things You Didn’t Know About 802.11ac

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | February 28, 2014 | Read Time: 2 mins

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Many of the folks we speak to on a daily basis still feel like preparing an enterprise business for wireless access is similar in nature to home networking. Unfortunately, that line of thinking is a bit misguided, as the technology changes about as frequently as the sheets on their bed.

One of the most recent changes is users ability to now be provided 802.11ac connectivity, offering up to gigabit speeds over wireless. To help educate, here are 8 things you didn’t know about 802.11ac:

1. The new standard in wireless connectivity

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) ratified 802.11ac as the new standard in wireless connectivity back in January 2014, but you can still expect firmware updates, advanced access points with additional security and analytics features.

2. 802.11ac connectivity is 3 times faster than 802.11n

Some manufacturers are boasting up to gigabit speed. Sure, as long as you don’t have a bottleneck with your wired infrastructure. You can’t spell wireless without the wire.

3. 802.11ac access points are dual channel

Older wireless kit uses the 2.4GHz frequency band, which is overcrowded by baby monitors, the ancient cordless phone and even microwaves. 802.11ac access points utilize both 2.4GHz and the less cluttered 5GHz band where there's more room for data transmission, hence (at least partially) increased connectivity.

4. 802.11ac routers will be backwards compatible

802.11n can co-exist in an 802.11ac environment, as many manufacturer’s new 802.11ac access points are backwards compatible with 802.11n. Smart move here for the manufacturers knowing that the development of 802.11ac clients was a bit behind the release of the 802.11ac standard. To help reduce costs, in some cases we even recommend going with 802.11ac access points in only the “high capacity” areas like gymnasiums, cafeterias, etc.

5. 802.11ac doesn’t pass through concrete

Despite the advanced technology, 802.11ac access points can’t transmit through concrete cinder block walls any better than the 802.11n devices.

6. 802.11ac clients won’t connect through concrete

Despite the advanced technology and new swanky devices, 802.11ac clients can’t receive and transmit through cinder block walls. It’s physics, folks! So, be sure to factor in your building materials which may be preventing you from enjoying the full benefits of 802.11ac.

7. 802.11ac authentication methods are no different

No changes were made to the 802.1X authentication framework, meaning if you’re leveraging Active Directory for user authentication system that works with 802.11a/b/g/n networks the same authentication will also work with an 802.11ac network.

8. 802.11ac is (currently) more expensive

OK, so maybe you DID know this part but it’s worth repeating that to get the best, there’s a certain value placed on the best solution. Pricing will continue to decline as more competition comes into the marketplace with advanced features. For now though, 802.11ac offers the best in wireless connectivity.

If you are testing the waters of an 802.11ac implementation and have questions or would like to see how it can help your wireless network contact us here. We are always happy to offer advice and help!

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