Internet speeds

New lightning-fast WiFi standard on the horizon

Martin Ferreira, Executive Head of Technology and Operations: Jasco Carrier
Martin Ferriera 2.jpeg

The latest standard and fifth generation in WiFi protocols, the 802.11ac promises to deliver speeds on wireless LAN sites of up to three times faster than the previous 802.11n standard – finally making true high-definition video streaming at 500 megabytes per second possible.

With the demand for wireless bandwidth ever increasing, more users today use wireless access as their primary source of connectivity, accessing bandwidth-hungry services such as iCloud, video conferencing and radio-streaming sites. Additionally, there are more wireless devices than ever before. Users sometimes have two or three devices, which has created a great demand for new Wi-Fi design considerations.

This is according to executive head of Technology and Operations at Jasco Carrier, Martin Ferreira, who adds that South Africa follows the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recommendations as outlined by Europe, and the local market can expect it to be legal at the same time as when the standard is ratified.

The 802.11ac project was approved in September 2008. The Draft 2.1 is currently available, and the final third version is expected to go out for ballot shortly. Final ratification of the standard is expected in the latter part of 2013. But the Wi-Fi Alliance is aiming to have the certification process in place in Q1 of 2013.

However, Ferreira says 802.11ac won’t deliver the enhanced speeds and performance if organisations are still using older technologies that are not gigabit-enabled.

“Companies must have a strategy in place to migrate to the new standard. The reality is that the standard does offer the benefits of unprecedented speeds, but there are a few considerations that organisations need to address before upgrading to this latest WiFi development.”

Ferreira explains that these super-fast speeds may not be experienced by the ordinary end-user in a company.

“In order to hardness the performance benefits of the 802.11ac standard, end-user equipment such as PCs and notebooks must be 802.11ac ready,” he adds.

He says that 802.11ac network equipment will have limited ibackward compatibility and, as many end-user devices still operate at the 802.11n standard, lower speeds and performance will be experienced.

“Organisations will have to exclude slower modes, such as 802.11b and g, by not allowing these devices on the network. However, operational requirements will have to take precedence in order to implement this strategy.

“If correctly implemented, an 802.11n device should get throughput close to the maximum of the device capability,” Ferreira says.

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