802.11ac is about
increasing the client's throughput (connected data rate) without significantly
changing the Access Point's footprint (client coverage cell size).
When using 11ac
enhancements such as, additional spatial streams (multiple transceivers), more
complex modulation (256 QAM) and the ability to transmit data to more than one
client at a time (MU-MIMO) the real benefit (and the engineering goal of an
11ac network) is to allow more information to be sent in a much shorter
"on-air" time clearing the airwaves as quickly as possible.
airwaves (spectrum efficiency), benefits all clients (including legacy clients)
resulting in a faster connected experience as the spectrum efficiency reduces
airwave contention and retries.
It is not about
changing the basic RF coverage area, it's about capacity and performance and so
(before upgrading) it is important to understand how your current WLAN
If clients have
good connectivity and there are no drops or dead spots then it is very likely
you can replace the existing Access Points with new .11ac ones without having
to perform a site survey or change much of the physical environment.
However; if you
currently have areas that lack coverage you should look to address those issues
first *before* migrating to .11ac as migration is not likely to fix existing
coverage holes or dead spots.
Access Points, try to avoid mixing different makes/models of APs, perhaps
upgrade one area or floor of your building at a time rather than a "salt and
802.11ac is about
performance and that requires more powerful AP hardware.
As you can see in
(figure 2) many Access Points can exceed Gigabit Ethernet perhaps challenging
your existing Ethernet cabling and power requirements. Newer Access Points
depending on model contain:
processors to handle radio / packet processing traffic
ports and/or Multigigabit Ethernet (mGig)
(RAM) dedicated to Ethernet/Radio processors)
radios for BLE and Flexible Radio <dual 5 GHz Micro/Macro cell
What does your
network look like today? Do you have the infrastructure in place? Can your
infrastructure support more powerful Access Points? Let's consider the