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Wave 2 promises to add:
They don’t yet have support for the promised four Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) clients but instead only three. They don’t yet support 160 MHz channels, although the usefulness of this in the enterprise is likely limited to a remote office with just one AP (given you only have one 160 MHz non-overlapping channel in the US and need DFS support). The other killer app? The speed test! In addition these APs don’t yet have an elegant solution for backhauling the promised more than a gigabit of traffic. They ship with two gigabit interfaces. To realize more than a gig, one would need to run two cables, use two switch ports and enable link aggregation. Ugly! Finally wave 2 11ac is not yet certified for interoperability and few clients are available. The Wi-Fi Alliance has not yet publicly announced an interoperability certification program for 11ac wave 2 products but is expected to do so the first half of next year along with the arrival of full featured 11ac wave 2 products.
So given the fact that 11ac wave 1 was initially offered at a price premium over 11n and that these early wave 2 or what some might call “11ac wave 1.5” products are being offered at a price premium over 11ac wave 1 (premium over the premium!), one must question if it’s worth the premium? The fact of the matter is the 11ac standard was ratified late December 2013, so you are not dealing with draft technology but these early wave 2 or what some might call “wave 1.5” products are brand new and wave 2 11ac is not yet certified for interoperability, not many wave 2 clients exist. The Wi-Fi alliance however did announce interoperability certification in June of 2013 for wave 1 11ac and there are many certified wave 1 clients available today. Also 11ac Wave 1 doesn’t require infrastructure upgrades. You can leverage existing gigabit switch ports and in many cases 802.3af PoE (some may require 802.3at PoE+). Finally 11ac wave 1 three stream products are a small price premium over 11n and in many cases prices have leveled off to be the same or lower than 11n. In addition mid-tier/lower cost wave 1 two stream products have emerged.
11ac wave 1 remains really great for lifecycle upgrades, high user density environments such as stadiums, conference centers, lecture halls and gymnasiums, high throughput applications such as video and applications with large file transfers such as CAD. Don’t wipeout with these early wave 2 or what some might call “wave 1.5” products!
About the author: Kenneth Fernandes has 17 years experience in networking and security. Since 2007, he has been focused totally on wireless networking and security. Kenneth currently serves as a Product Manager at ADTRAN where he oversees the wireless product lines such as the Bluesocket virtual Wireless LAN (vWLAN). Kenneth is considered an “engineer’s engineer” by his peers and an authority on Wi-Fi technology. Based out of the Boston, Massachusetts area, Kenneth considers himself a Wi-Fi Enthusiast and is passionate about Wi-Fi. Follow him on Twitter at @wifiblogdotcom and at http://wifiblog.com