'ac' doesn't stand for 'all clear'

The oncoming entrance of 802.11ac Wave 2 technology to the enterprise networking market has stirred up several technological developments, some of which we have covered over the past few months.

From the March, 2015 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

The oncoming entrance of 802.11ac Wave 2 technology to the enterprise networking market has stirred up several technological developments, some of which we have covered over the past few months. Recently we tried to acquire some quantitative data on the topic by surveying end-user organizations about their intentions to deploy 802.11-based wireless LAN equipment within their networks. Some of you may remember taking our survey in late January or early February. Here I'll share a handful of results from that survey, with specific emphasis on some of that WiFi and related data.

As a baseline, more than 92 percent of our survey's respondents said they currently have some wireless access points deployed in their networks. Among those users, 802.11n is the most widely deployed technology; 63 percent of responding users said they have 802.11n access points in their networks. When we asked users what technologies they are using, we allowed them to select "all that apply," so they could tell us, for example, if they use both 802.11n and 802.11a/g. And from the looks of it, that's exactly what some of them did, because "a/g" was the second-most-widely deployed WiFi technology at 53 percent. It can be said that 802.11ac is a distant third at 28 percent, trailed by 802.11b at 26 percent.

But the tide turns somewhat when we look into the future. Sixty-one percent of users told us they plan to deploy new wirleess access points at some point within the next two years, including 40 percent of all respondents who said they'll add access points within the next 12 months.

Of those who have plans to add access points over the next two years, 39 percent say they'll put in 802.11ac and 35 percent say they'll put in 802.11n. In third place, but not a distant third this time, are the 32 percent who are unsure about what technology they'll deploy, but affirm they'll be deploying new WiFi within 24 months.

Additionally, 78 percent of current WiFi users said they use Power over Ethernet to power some or all of their access points. Those that plan to continue using PoE and install 802.11ac will need a robust backhaul of cabling to support bandwidth and power. Won't they? That appears to be what all the fuss is about. But as evidenced by the sizable percentage of users who aren't sure what wireless technology they'll deploy next, and the fact that those advocating "ac-over-5e" offer only "trust us" as backup for their claims, it looks to me like "ac" doesn't exactly stand for "all clear."

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