802.11ac Wave 2 is Here Today!
802.11 is a set of standards, developed by the International Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), that govern wireless networking transmission methods. The new standard in Wi-Fi is 802.11ac Wave 2. It is different from the first 802.11ac wireless specification in that it utilizes Multi-user Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology to help increase wireless speeds from 3.47 Gbps to 6.93 Gbps. Just like our devices have upgrades – smartphones, tablets, laptops – each iteration of these 802.11 standards makes improvements and advancements on the previous standard. 802.11ac was designed to help deliver increased bandwidth and improve wireless reliability to meet the growing demand. And it has finally arrived.
The MU-MIMO technology simply means that wireless routers can now transmit to and receive data from multiple Wi-Fi devices at the same time. In addition to making a network faster, MU-MIMO can aid in increasing its capacity, allowing it to handle more Wi-Fi devices and faster video and voice streaming.
Newer Wi-Fi networks also utilize both the 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz spectrums. The 2.4 GHz spectrum has the greatest range and universal capacity, however its limitation and growing congestion makes it prone to interference from itself and non-Wi-Fi devices. As the 2.4GHz spectrum becomes overcrowded and interference builds, the 5.0GHz is utilized to provide additional coverage for more devices.
Most modern mobile devices look to connect via 5GHz first and 2.4 second. Facilities should be looking for a dual-band (2.4 & 5 GHz) solution, to double potential wireless bandwidth, support backwards compatibility with older 801.11 b/d/n devices and to help eliminate interference.
Beamforming - Putting the Signal Where the User Is
Beamforming is a new technology that can also help improve bandwidth by concentrating signals that travel to the Wi-Fi router, optimizing the signal for greatest accuracy, speed, fewer errors, and instant bandwidth delivery. Think of it as having the accuracy and focus of a laser beam. When utilized with MU-MIMO, smart antenna patterns can determine and utilize the optimal signal path, ensuring crystal clear data transmission for multiple devices.
Until recently WiFi networks were largely based on vertical polarization, meaning that holding a device in other than a vertical orientation could significantly degrade WiFi performance. Fortunately, today there is antenna technology from Ruckus Wireless that compensates for the angle of the recieving device. Not all WiFi access points can compensate for polarization, make sure the technology you choose has this ability.
10Gbit Ethernet is an easily deployed, cost-effective technology that can support high-speed within existing networks. Data is transmitted in both directions on a signal carrier at the same time. This means there is virtually no delay between initiating a task on a device and its completion. Now that’s fast. The 10 GbE standard is fully interoperable with existing Ethernet protocols and will be a standard to know moving forward.
If facilities are currently running a wireless network with 802.11n, most devices coming out will be backwards compatible – at least for the short term. Those running at 2.4GHz only will need to upgrade wireless to a more sophisticated infrastructure to prepare for the arrival of 802.11ac Wave 2 – and the new technologies that will come with it. The benefits of wireless are negated if uploads and downloads are painstakingly slow. A higher bandwidth results in significantly faster transfer speeds resulting in less frustration and greater resident satisfaction. With multi-use technologies, everyone can access their devices at once without a loss of speed.