Wireless gone wild

802.11ac WiFi boosts bandwidth speed by supplying wider frequency bands and faster processing with multiple antennas.

Read time 4min 00sec

The world has fully embraced wireless connectivity. Global trends reveal a massive growth in mobile services, spurred on by a change in working styles. Human beings are constantly on the move and their lifestyles require they be able to work on the go, from anywhere, at any time.

Always being on the go and working on the go calls for technology that will match any individual pace. The consultant working on a budget needs to be able to access fast Internet in a public place, while a lecturer may need to access fast Internet in an auditorium to give a presentation. Users working on the go want fast connection and faster download rates with high performance.

The increase in data traffic, with consumers trying to access streamed multimedia content and Web services, has also contributed significantly to the rise in technical innovation. Issues of bandwidth have contributed significantly to WiFi's operational capabilities. However, the development of the 802.11ac wireless network standard may be the answer to the bandwidth issues.

In the fast lane

802.11ac WiFi increases bandwidth speed by providing wider frequency bands and faster processing with multiple antennas. Imagine the bandwidth as a highway: 802.11ac transforms this usually congested four-lane highway to a capacity of eight lanes, while simultaneously upgrading the car to a high-end sports car with no speed limit. The result? Faster traffic with decreased travel time.

Additionally, with 'beamforming' as an option to extend range and ensure link reliability, it can give a much needed boost to public WiFi by resolving signal phase conflicts for stronger and more stable throughput. Public spaces such as airports and malls are now able to provide consumers with improved connected life experiences.

802.11ac can be used both at home and in a business environment. Its application will lean more towards businesses, as they need more density and coverage for the various operations, such as high-speed applications and conference rooms. The additional capacity means more devices can connect simultaneously, which is an ideal standard in any company and household.

The market prediction says by 2015, 802.11ac access point (AP) adoption will increase, while some vendors have already released devices that support 802.11ac. In SA, most vendors have released products to support and provide 802.11ac technology. Although there are still many routers and wireless devices in use that rely on the older WiFi protocols, 802.11ac will be able to support fallback to older WiFi standards, thus enabling backwards compatibility.

It must be pointed out that the use of an 802.11ac AP in conjunction with an 802.11n equipped laptop, or an old 802.11g network bridge, may limit speed. The 802.11ac AP may be limited to the older device's maximum speed.

Long life

Also, faster WiFi and Internet connectivity go hand-in-hand with device battery life. 802.11ac Gigabit WiFi promises speed, reliability and quality, for a society that enjoys streaming HD videos, but at what cost? Will any of these promises compromise the battery life on a tablet or phone? The good news is 802.11ac will help extend battery life in mobile devices with single-stream 802.11ac. Faster data transfer time means less power usage, ensuring the device goes longer without charging.

Faster data transfer time means less power usage.

The second wave of 802.11ac routers is set to hit global markets in 2015. The majority of the first wave of 802.11ac routers was based on draft versions of the 802.11ac standard. Wave two 802.11ac routers will deliver maximum physical link rates in the range of 7Gbps to 10Gbps. It will support 5GHz frequency band, and MU-MIMO (multi-user multiple input/multiple output), which allows them to transmit multiple spatial streams to multiple clients simultaneously.

Wave one 802.11ac routers can also bond 5GHz channels, but the bonded channel is only 80MHz wide. 802.11n and Wave one 802.11ac routers support a maximum of three spatial streams. Wave two 802.11ac routers will potentially support up to eight spatial streams.

Africa may have to wait a bit longer for the second wave to make its appearance, but the use of first-wave routers for a few more years shouldn't deter the anticipation. 802.11ac WiFi places users in the fast lane, giving them increased mobility with more control. More people will be able to access broadband from mobile devices, allowing them to stay connected all the time, from wherever they may be, therefore creating a better connected Africa.

Kameshwar Rao Sorda

solutions director at Huawei Enterprise Business Group of Eastern and Southern Africa.

Kameshwar Rao Sorda is solutions director at Huawei Enterprise Business Group of Eastern and Southern Africa. He serves a key role within the IP Solutions team for the group. Sorda has piloted a number of groundbreaking campus network projects as regional project leader and has organised various internal knowledge events to facilitate the adoption of new technology from Huawei. In addition, he has co-ordinated partnership programmes with key players within the industry. Sorda worked as a senior consultant for Barclays Absa, where he was responsible for roll-out development strategies, before joining Huawei in 2011.

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