Emerging 802.11ac WLAN products could drive nearly 7 Gbps of throughput. Buckle up.
To meet our ever-growing need for speed, the IEEE is working on Enhancements for Very High Throughput for operation in bands below 6 GHz, commonly known as the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. Wi-Fi certified products based on a draft of this standard will likely emerge by mid-2013, boosting maximum data rates above 1 Gbps. By late 2014 or early 2015, products aligned with the final 11ac standard will nudge the Wi-Fi speed limit closer to 7 Gbps. For IT, 11ac promises room for growth by focusing on less-cluttered 5-GHz channels, doubling or quadrupling channel widths, using more efficient encoding, doubling maximum spatial streams and eventually letting wireless access points service multiple clients simultaneously.
These benefits are appealing, but IT teams that have barely finished migrating to 802.11n may justifiably wonder why they can't sit back for a year or so. After all, didn't 11n just increase speed an order of magnitude over the 11a/g standard?
Yes, but many 11n WLANs are already suffering growing pains. First off, the small, crowded 2.4-GHz "junk band" has grown far too congested; 11ac kicks migration to 5 GHz into high gear by avoiding 2.4-GHz channels entirely. Second, while many applications operate fine at 11n speeds, some need higher throughput. For example, delivering uncompressed high-definition video to a Wi-Fi display requires 1.5 Gbps to 3 Gbps. Finally, and perhaps most painfully obvious to IT, bring-your-own-device programs have caused an explosion in the number and diversity of Wi-Fi devices access enterprise WLANs. And wireless carriers are encouraging people to off-load smartphone browsing to Wi-Fi to conserve scarce spectrum.
To keep your company's mobile initiatives on track, you'll need 802.11ac. ...