This article appeared in the November issue of CRN magazine alongside this feature: "Worth waiting for faster wi-fi?"
Andrew Wilmot, director, Cloudifi
If clients have an immediate need for wi-fi or the budget available, I would advise them to install the current Wave hardware, which will still offer a real-world throughput improvement on 802.11n technology.
Wave 2 promises to bring some exciting gains for customers looking for a network to support a very high-density environment, such as conference facilities and auditoriums, or for customers that serve a lot of content from their LAN, for example digital agencies, builders or architects.
But for most customers just using the cloud over a comparatively slow WAN link, I think the current Wave 1 technology is a very nice option. We are proposing 802.11ac solutions to a number of private schools at present, as it is most suitable for the high-density requirements of classrooms. Generally, business clients are still going for solutions based on 802.11n technology.
Aaron Bailey, security manager, The Missing Link Network Integration
Many of our clients still have 802.11a/b/g networks and for these we most certainly are recommending to upgrade to 802.11ac as soon as possible, if they have budgeted programs for wireless refresh. Even those clients running 802.11n will find improved performance when utilising 802.11ac. Even with 802.11n devices, these will still see better range and performance with 802.11ac APs.
Most commercial applications and enterprise uses will benefit from Wave 1 technology. Many of our clients are working fine with 802.11n technology today and 802.11ac Wave 1 still provides, in most cases, at least 2x improvement of performance. Customers who require greater than 1Gbps connectivity to mobile devices via wireless should wait for Wave 2. Examples would be clients who require high-speed data transfer such as high volumes of streaming video or 3D CAD architectural applications.
We recently completed a wireless refresh for a large legal client, with more than 550 users, using 802.11ac-compliant wireless LAN controllers but 802.11n access points. This decision was primarily made based on cost and budget and the fact that this refresh only needed to last for one year before they moved locations. That client decided to invest in the newer WLCs in the short term and then look at 802.11ac AP investment during their relocation to their new offices.