Next generation high speed WiFi takes off with new 802.11ac access points

Paul Boughton

Vendors are starting to show new access points using the emerging high speed 5GHz 802.11ac wireless standard. AirTies is demonstrating a new 11ac multi-antenna wireless video system that handles the latest HEVC-H.265 video compression, while Cisco has launched a cloud-managed 11ac access point under its Meraki brand.

AirTies has launched the first 4x4 video bridge to support 802.11ac, tripling the throughput of video and data over greater distances to connect devices such as TV, tablets and mobiles to stream and view High Definition (HD) video.

The Air 4820 Video Bridge uses the 4X4 Quantenna chipset, providing 1.7Gbps throughput and supports advanced beamforming to expand the field of delivery. This combines with the patented AirTies Mesh software to enables 100% wireless coverage around the home with automatic network streaming optimisation directly from access point to access point.

The high-performance video bridge maximises bandwidth usage allowing content to be wirelessly streamed at 5GHz throughout the home to multiple TVs in HD.

“With the proliferation of devices, such as mobile phones and tablet devices, continuing to grow we are seeing a demand from operators for solutions that are able to provide greater bandwidth but with low power consumption as consumers connect more devices in the home,” said Bülent Celebi, Chairman and Co-founder of AirTies. “With the emergence of the 802.11ac technology in our solutions, we are now able to offer a solution that overcomes the need for greater bandwidth capacity but still deliver seamless high quality HD content.”

Cisco has also launched an 11ac access point that is managed through the cloud. The Cisco Meraki MR34 jumps from 802.11n speeds of 450 Mbps to almost three times faster with 802.11ac, topping out at 1.3Gbps. 802.11ac only applies to 5GHz, so the MR34 uses a combination of 802.11ac and 802.11n on 5GHz bands and 802.11n on 2.4GHz bands for a combined data rate of 1.75Gbps.

The first driver of the higher speed is wider channels. Instead of the 40 MHz channels used by 11n, 802.11ac takes advantage of 80MHz channels. 802.11ac even takes into account existing 802.11a and n clients by allowing them to transmit on 20 or 40MHz segments of the same 80MHz blocks used for 802.11ac traffic, enabling seamless backward compatibility.

Another element contributing to the performance improvement is an enhanced 256 QAM modulation technique. This allows a greater density of information to be transmitted than with the 64 QAM of 802.11n.

The MR34 also includes a third radio to make it the more secure. This dual band radio operates in full-time scanning mode, powering Auto RF which optimises the RF environment as well as securing the air waves with the built in Cisco Meraki Air Marshal technology. The extra radio provides a real-time granular view of the 2.4 and 5GHz spectrum giving administrators a comprehensive understanding of the RF environment.

The MR34 comes with network visibility tools, as well as layer 7 firewall and traffic shaping functionality built into the AP. The MR34 enforces traffic shaping policies at line rate, even at faster 11ac speeds for complete network control. Stay tuned for more blog posts that go into the details of these enhanced features and more.

The access point uses the centralised cloud dashboard for configuration, management, and monitoring with fully integrated, out-of-the-box feature set which is common to all the MR access points, with secure guest access, BYOD support and traffic shaping. For wireless networks that use power over Ethernet (PoE) switches to power the APs, the MR34 can operate in low power mode at standard PoE (802.3af) or use PoE+ (802.3at) to take advantage of the enhanced third radio functions.

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