Get it Right on Commercial Wi-Fi Part 1 - 802.11ac

Commercial Wi-Fi – Getting it Right [Part 1]

Designing and implementing commercial Wi-Fi is an intricate process which requires a lot careful consideration. Most Wi-Fi gear come cheap, easy to configure and deploy and one might be tempted to jump into the business to make a quick shilling. This ends up being the downfall to many WISPs.

Consider this…

You’ve bought equipment from your dealer and procured enough bandwidth from your provider, and now you’re ready to set up your first site and conquer the Wi-Fi space. Within the first week of business, you already have regular unsatisfied callers complaining about slow internet speeds and intermittent connection. You can’t quite point out where the issue is…you have more than enough bandwidth from your provider and your equipment is functional.

So, where’s the problem?

In commercial Wi-Fi business, sometimes it is not just about fast internet speeds from your service provider, but also, how fast data can move between your wireless access point and multiple wireless devices from your customers, with the lowest network latencies possible. In short, performance! If you are looking for this kind of efficiency in performance, you might want to consider 802.11ac.

So, what is this 802.11ac?

In Wi-Fi technology, there are standards managed by a nerd council called the IEEE [read ‘I triple E’]. These standards govern how wireless equipment should operate, e.g. how fast data moves between wireless devices, otherwise known as throughput, and also, what wireless frequency they operate on. The nerd council gave Wi-Fi the code name 802.11, read ‘eight oh two dot eleven’. In the BENINGING, there was 802.11b with speeds [throughput] of up to 11Mbps over short ranges, on the 2.4GHz band. Then came 802.11g with speeds of up to 54Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. There was also 802.11a, which, like 802.11g supports speeds of up to 54Mbps, but on the 5GHz band.

Then came 802.11n, a major upgrade from its predecessors, [802.11b/g] with speeds of up to 150Mbps [per antenna]. It is a Dual-Band standard in that, it can simultaneously support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. This means that an access point can run two wireless networks at the same time, one on the 2.4GHz frequency and the other on the 5GHz frequency. In application, you can connect your phone and tab on the less demanding 2.4GHz band, while streaming movies on your Smart TV on the 5GHz band. Cool, right? The only problem with this standard for commercial Wi-Fi is low throughput and channel limit. 802.11n supports SU-MIMO [Single User- Multiple In Multiple Out]. In simple terms, what this means is that only one user at a time is allowed to transmit data in and out, on a single channel. In the case of public Wi-Fi, this is a major hindrance to performance and effectiveness.

Enter 802.11ac, the latest Wi-Fi standard and our subject for today.

802.11ac is a wireless networking standard that provides high throughput WLANs on the 5GHz band. This standard, unlike 802.11n, transmits multiple data streams that can be combined to give higher throughput, which means it can do speeds of up to 1.3Gbps [or 2.6Gbps-theoretical]. It also supports MU-MIMO [Multi User- Multiple In Multiple Out]. This means that many users are allowed to transmit data in and out on a single channel, unlike SU-MIMO for 802.11n. It enables access points to act more like switches.

With IoT, 802.11ac is the best solution for public/commercial Wi-Fi because it can comfortably handle high data rates from multiple devices simultaneously, without degrading the access point’s performance. In application, you can use this standard for Wi-Fi for Events, Public Hotspots, Hotels, Airports, and other high throughput demand areas.


Read Part II here

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