The WLAN Industry is a curious beast. A significant part of this kind of networking is invisible with wildly variable data rates based on a slew of influencing factors. This makes Wi-Fi a great place to be in marketing, as there’s very little that will be patently, technically false in even the silliest of product boasts. But the WLAN moving target also makes for some difficult conversations between the Smart People of Industry and those of us that just want to know where things stand- and where we stand.
Add the complexities of 802.11ac to the mix, and the last couple of sentences that you just read get amplified by an order of magnitude.
Which brings me to my point. Now, even as 802.11ac is starting to get deployed in real wireless networks with real 11ac client devices, there still is no clear message from the WLAN industry on how to cable for 11ac, or what the “real” expected throughput for 11ac will be through Wave 2.
The confusion arguably is of little concern to smaller WLANs that get popped up in places where cable lengths are measured in tens of feet and adding another run to what little might be in place is no big deal. But many of us have big WLANs with thousands of APs in challenging buildings where altering the cable plant can be daunting, because of pathway sizing, asbestos concerns, required low-voltage permits and other red-tape hurdles that are more political than technical. We don’t have the luxury of guessing what’s right, and adjusting later and yes- we have to plan well in advance for Wave 2.
It would be nice if the WLAN industry would throw us a bone. I have the utmost respect for the companies and folks I’m about to mention, but I don’t think those on the WLAN provider side of life understand how utterly confusing their messages still are on the simple question “how do we prepare for 802.11ac?“.
Source is here.
Then there’s this:
from this page.
There’s also this nuanced message:
Are you starting to see the confusion? What are customers supposed to believe? Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols got the message of two Ehernet cables per AP (bullet point 5), and Michael F. Finneran also figured “probably two 1 Gbps Ethernet connections to each access point.” There’s a lot of this going around. Why is this is so hard to properly nail down, as an industry?
I personally railed against the notion of sticking the customer with the burden of dual-UTP runs per AP and any Etherchannel requirements that might go with them, and my friend Kieth Parsons has shared that Aruba Networks has mentioned the very type of switch I was dreaming of at their AirHeads Conference:
I read this as Aruba Networks expecting that bandwidth beyond 1 GB will be needed in Wave 2.
But enough of this. If you do own your own searching or talk to enough people in the WLAN industry, you’ll see the same mixed signals on how to do the simple act of cabling for an access point that will eventually do or be swapped out for 802.11ac. Everyone is trying to figure it out, and is sincerely offering their experienced opinion and analysis with the best of intention. Yet, we don’t have consensus, and the customer is left scratching their head. If the “right” answer is “it depends on the situation, so you figure it out”, that’s OK, but that’s not what we’re hearing often times. (And when more than 1 Gig is expected, I personally still want to do that on a single cable.)
For an industry that counts noise as it’s arch-enemy in the RF domain, we sure have enough of it on the topic of expected bandwidth requirements and cabling for 802.11ac. How did the standard get out of the gate with this big of a loose end dangling? And how long can something this unclear go on?