For a wireless network to be truly business-ready, it needs three things: speed, strong connectivity and security. Many Ingram Micro Cisco partners already know security is built into the fabric of Cisco network products and services such as Cisco Umbrella WLAN, Cisco ONE Advanced Security Suite, Cisco Cloudlock and Cisco Cloud Email Security. However, despite the latest Wi-Fi standards unveiled over the past few years such as 802.11 ac, which can support speeds up to 6.8 Gbps, very few end users are experiencing anything even remotely close to this level of performance.
The primary culprit behind the delta in Wi-Fi’s potential and real-world performance is explained by legacy Cat5e or Cat6 cabling that’s used by most businesses. According to the NBASE-T Alliance, there’s more than 70 billion meters of Cat5 and 6 cabling that’s been installed since 1999. When you consider how disruptive it would be for companies to rip out their legacy cabling and replace it with 10GBASE-T cabling or fiber at $100+ per drop, it’s just not feasible.
In the next two years, when 801.11ax is released, with 4x the throughput of the current 802.11ac standard, the problem is going to be further exacerbated.
The solution to legacy local area network bottlenecks
The NBASE-T Alliance was created to address the Wi-Fi speed problem without requiring expensive cable runs. The nonprofit group developed new technology that would enable legacy Cat5e and Cat6 cabling to accommodate between 2.5x and 5x (i.e., 2.5GbE and 5GbE) throughput by using wireless gear that supports the alliance’s IEEE-approved standard, 802.3bz. The new standard increases information density and adjusts spectral bandwidth to achieve throughput up to 5x greater than what was previously possible.
Cisco Aironet Access Points (APs) take full advantage of the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard. Even legacy devices running 802.11a/b/g/n standards will see a bump in performance after updating your clients’ networks with 802.11ac Wave 2 products. The reason is that multiuser multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) 802.11ac Wave 2 clients are on and off the network so fast that it allows more legacy clients to be served. Plus, 802.11ac Wave 2-enabled smart phones, laptops and tablets use the 5Ghz band, which leaves the 2.4GHz bands available for older devices.
Another benefit of faster Wi-Fi speeds is that it preserves battery life on Wave 2 clients. Additionally, Cisco Aironet APs have built-in technology to accommodate user surges. A Cisco Aironet AP deployed in a hotel lobby, for example, can handle a crowd of customers connecting simultaneously upon entering the hotel.
Preparing for 802.11ac Wave 2 is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Cisco has a wide access point portfolio that offers different solutions to fit different situations. The Cisco Aironet 1830 and 1850 Series APs are designed for SMB customers. For customers whose wireless networks are mission critical, Cisco offers the Aironet 2800 Series AP, which is also a fit for midsize to large enterprise customers. For customers with lots of wireless users in a concentrated area, such as stadiums and arenas, the Cisco Aironet 3800 AP is an ideal fit.