What's Your Plan for Supporting Faster Wi-Fi? Better Prepare Your Network with These Expert Insights.

Aug. 13, 2018

Wireless networking throughput, or data transfer rate, has increased significantly in the past decade and will continue to increase with the upcoming IEEE 802.11ax amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard, expected to publish in 2019. 

IEEE 802.11ax is an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA) proposed amendment for wireless networking (Wi-Fi) that defines high efficiency wireless local area networks (WLANs) for dense environments. IEEE.80211ax introduces a number of technical improvements over the previous IEEE 802.11ac-213 amendment that will allow wireless access points (WAPs) to support even more devices and provide even faster connections in anticipation of 4K/8K UHD video streaming, augmented and virtual reality and rapid proliferation of connected devices as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Simply put, the bandwidth and number of devices supported by wireless networking is increasing. 

What does this mean for you? Your network will be impacted. Consider the insights below before you plan updates or upgrades:

  • Updating your WLAN will require a replacement of WAPs because the hardware enables faster connection speeds. Supporting your new high-bandwidth wireless network may require an update to your LAN switches and structured cabling.
  • IEEE 802.11ac WAPs are best supported with 5 Gigabit per second (Gbps) network connections. IEEE 802.11ax WAPs will require 10 Gbps network connections. This probably means an increase in your horizontal network from 1 Gbps connections to 10 Gbps, and a corresponding upgrade in your backbone connections from 10 Gbps to 40 Gbps. 
  • Consider a network switch that can cover 10 Gbps to each WAP, supports mutigigabit switching per the IEEE 802.3bz-2016 amendments, and has an integrated network controller. Multigigabit switching will allow the throughput speed to adjust dynamically between 1 Gbps, 2.5 Gbps, 5 Gbps and 10 Gbps depending on the access point requirements.
  • A network controller, which can be software overlay or a separate hardware appliance, provides a single point for managing all of the access points in the network. If powering WAPs over the network, you will need a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch. 
  • Structured cabling may need upgraded. A multigigabit switch will support network connections up to 5 Gbps over existing Category 5e UTP and Category 6 UTP network cabling. But, for 10 Gbps, it is best to use Cat 6A UTP or better. Also, note that some WAPs support two network connections.

To learn more about how Wi-Fi and other emerging technologies will affect your network—and how to prepare for the impact—download a complimentary white paper.

Posted by Brittany Mangan, Digital Content Specialist at 8/7/2018

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