How will 802.11ax affect my network?

As it stands, 802.11ac Wave 2 is still the recent wireless standard, and several manufacturers have been releasing MU-MIMO capable AC client devices for a little while now, meaning you can use the full potential of the network, while being backwards compatible, to keep some of those legacy devices knocking around on the network and out of trouble. As with all wireless standards, even after a new wireless standard is unveiled, previous models of Access Points are still manufactured and supported, but the length of time is manufacturer dependant. So don't panic, you won't have to rip and replace your shiny new network until you are ready.

To keep you in the loop, here is a little breakdown of the upcoming standard, and what we will all have to get ready for in the future.

So, what can you expect from 802.11ax?

So, all of the buzz surrounding AX is mainly due to the integration of another frequency capable radio within the access points, 60GHz. This new frequency will be capable of offering dramatically increased throughput per radio than both 2.4GHz and 5GHz combined (potentially up to 7Gbps), but is expected to have a smaller footprint of coverage than that of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Any tests that have been completed of this aspect of the new standard are yet to be released, but given the performance of 60GHz point to point bridges, it is highly unlikely to extend outside of the room the Access Point is located in, requiring a line of sight connection to the client device. This means there will be a change to the way new deployments are designed, when trying to meet the expectation of coverage and capacity.

So what are the benefits?

All previous standards have prided themselves on touting bigger throughput speeds compared to its predecessors, and those numbers are often not a realistic reflection of real-world connection speeds. 802.11ax will continue the trend of offering faster speeds, but focuses on delivering a fast connection to every device in your office/home/school etc, and trying to improve the overall Wireless experience. When 802.11ax is released, you can expect to have a better experience when trying to:

  • Stream movies and TV shows especially in 4K, Ultra-HD
  • Quickly download large files
  • Playing games online without experiencing "lag."
  • Seamlessly use multiple smart devices without noticeable speed sacrifices, since 802.11ax is designed for Wi-Fi-dense environments
  • Keeping all your smart devices running 24-7 with maximum Wi-Fi coverage

Currently 802.11ax is going through the approval stages with the IEEE and is still a little way off gaining its final certification, although that hasn't stopped manufacturers already starting production on new access points.