Wireless Access

Guest Blogger

When Will You Support 802.11ac?

Now that vendors are starting to bring out support for 802.11ac wireless access points and client devices, it's only a matter of time before the more tech savvy users start wondering when they can see these "gigabit" speeds on their new fancy phones and laptops.  Most engineers know that supporting these new client devices will likely require equipment upgrades on the access point side.  Depending on the buying cycle, we may be many months away from a refresh.  But what if your plans to get new gear are within the next 12 months?  Are you going to keep moving right along with 802.11n access points or make the switch to ac?


Are you planning on buying 802.11ac access points in the next 12 months?  Or are you going to wait for the next wave of equipment that supports 160 MHz channels and muti-user streams?  For those looking at waiting, what are you going to tell your users?

Occasional Contributor I

Re: When Will You Support 802.11ac?

This question was brought up by a customer a few weeks ago.  Not necessarily going to 802.11ac but the life-cycle of equipment, having an older standards, and recovering old equipment from closed-out installs.  The gist of the answer relies on the equipment of the users and whether or not they will actually upgrade to equipment with the 802.11ac standard.  If our current AP model is going to be EoL'd, then we will have to purchase the new model but we arent going out to specifically upgrade to the new standard.  Currently, 50% of our users are on Apple products and until a significant portion of them upgrade to an 802.11ac device I cant see an argument being made to change from purchasing the current a/b/g/n products.  Even if they do upgrade we're still in a heavily mixed environment and are unlikely to take advantage of any gains 802.11ac would offer. 

Frequent Contributor II

Re: When Will You Support 802.11ac?

I agree with cbienlein


There are a few factors here that need to be looked at.

Do you have end user devices who support AC?
Have you provided the infrastructure (BW) to take advantage of a higher speed? Lets face it most users are trying to get to the internet not the internal LAN. If we provide higher speeds do you have the internet BW to support the surfing?

What I think your going to see the market do is buy some first generation ap's to support AC and only use them in high BW intensive areas (unless this is a greenfield where there wouldn't be a reason to buy older technology). Then as more clients have AC capable devices N ap's will be replaced with newer AC ap's. To the few customers who have express interest in AC this seems to be the most cost effective approach.


802.11n (5ghz) as great of a leap forward as it is from legacy (a/b/g) users are still 75-80% on the 2.4ghz band. If they knew what a difference 5Ghz could be there would be very few people still on 2.4Ghz. 

David Dipert
Trusted Contributor I

Re: When Will You Support 802.11ac?

We're currently designing the wireless infrastructure for our new campus and considered waiting for 802.11ac capable APs.  Due to time constraints and 802.11ac client support, we decided to move forward with n capable APs.  My preference is to deploy mature technologies that have been out for a while, rather than bleading edge technologies that may not be as stable initially.  I'll wait for the chipset and driver kinks to get worked out, then move forward with 802.11ac.

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