Offering users the potential to double their current wireless speeds, the new 802.11ac standard has far reaching implications with respect to cabling infrastructure design. With the introduction of 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), which allows more bits to be encoded in a single symbol, an eventual 160 MHz channel bandwidth and a maximum of eight spatial streams, 802.11ac will immediately support gigabit Wi-Fi with the potential to more than quadruple speeds when next generation products become available.
The white paper not only explains the IEEE 802.11ac application, but also how it has evolved. The implications of the required throughput to support this application are discussed and supported by comparisons between 802.11n and the new standard. Power consumption to support the new application is qualified, and the wired infrastructure recommended to deliver on all the technical requirements of very high throughput 5MHz wireless is clearly outlined.
Explaining the impact of the new wireless standard on structured cabling specification, the paper’s author, Valerie Maguire, director of standards and technology at Siemon, clarifies, ‘For the first time, the specification of high performance cabling supporting access layer switches and uplink connections is critical to achieving multi-gigabit throughput and fully supporting the capacity of next generation wireless access points.’
Justifying her claim that IEE 802.11ac is a ‘killer application’ Maguire continues, ‘IEEE 802.11ac has a dual-edged requirement for cabling uplinks to be ready to support greater than 1 Gb/s throughput and Type 2 remote powering for optimum performance – this application demands a properly designed and deployed cabling architecture that uses thermally stable shielded cable of category 6A or higher. This standard makes the wait and see stance concerning 10GBASE-T adoption in support of LAN applications a position of the past.’
According to Siemon, designing a cabling infrastructure to support 802.11ac deployment requires consideration of the switch, server, and device connection speeds commonly available today as well as strategies to support redundancy, equipment upgrades, and future wireless technologies. 802.11ac’s 5GHz transmission band requires relatively dense WAP coverage areas, so for new deployments, it is essential, the company says, to consider the cabling infrastructure.
As Siemon’s white paper explains, a grid-based shielded category 6A zone cabling approach, using consolidation points housed in zone enclosures, is an ideal way to provide sufficient spare port density to support 1000BASE-T link aggregation to each 802.11ac WAP as necessary, whilst also allowing for more efficient port utilisation when 10GBASE-T Wi-Fi equipment connections become available.
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