Here’s a question: how many devices are brought into your organization that conform to the 802.11ac Wave 2 standards? Don’t tell me, I already know the answer: probably none. That’s great and you’re safe. For now.

By this time next year, you’re going to start seeing more and more 802.11ac Wave 2 enabled devices on your network. The shift to the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard doesn’t just concern high-tech businesses; it’s going to affect all industries. With the highest Wi-Fi performance ever, wider channels and better end device efficiency, 802.11ac Wave 2 is going to be the standard that most will adhere to.

No matter what field you’re in or the size of your budget—even if you don’t have a lot of wiggle room, finance-wise—Cisco has you covered.

Current and Emerging Technologies
Without the expanded capacity of 802.11ac Wave 2, the impact of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies will be felt on your network as more employees flood the office with laptops, tablets and smart phones—sometimes all three—they will all be fighting for bandwidth. The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more commonplace too. Smart sensors, smart thermostats, wireless security cameras and more devices are sharing connections with the network. The increased bandwidth of 802.11 ac Wave 2 allows BYOD and IoT to run smoother.

Right now you have the opportunity to get a head start when it comes to readying your organization for 802.11ac Wave 2.

Any way you slice this up; your current wireless network is going to be stretched to its limit. And that means in a year you’re going to be stretched to your limit trying to update your network.

Technologies shift and more people are using video as the prevailing form of communication. Whether it’s because of YouTube or Netflix streaming or video calls, text and voice as means of communication are going the way of the 8-Track. To keep up with the next wave of communication, you have to provide more bandwidth and better wireless performance so that devices are able to smoothly utilize video the way it’s meant to be used: without interruption.

Cisco Aironet Access Points (AP) take full advantage of the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard’s highest Wi-Fi performance ever, by allowing for a higher data rate and freer flowing wireless data traffic with wider channels.

Even your legacy devices—those that run 802.11a/b/g/n—will see a bump in performance when you begin updating your network with 802.11ac Wave 2 products. The reason? With Muti-User MIMO (MU-MIMO), 802.11ac Wave 2 clients are on and off the network so fast allowing for more legacy clients to be served. Plus 802.11ac Wave 2-enabled smart phones, laptops and tablets, will jump on the 5Ghz band leaving the 2.4GHz bands for older devices.

With the higher speeds of 802.11ac Wave 2, it takes a lot less time to transmit data than it did with previous Wi-Fi standards. This preserves battery life on Wave 2 clients. That means in the long run, updating your wireless network to 802.11ac Wave 2 standards will provide a better user experience for your users.

802.11ac Wave 2’s Impact is World Wide
Make no mistake the affect of the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard is going to be global and won’t just affect specific business areas.

Schools need to support 802.11ac Wave 2 because more and more students are bringing devices to class. And it’s not to sneak a peek at the latest Taylor Swift video; educators are using tablets and other mobile devices as part of the education process. While additional devices and apps that will consume bandwidth are a big reason for the upgrade, it’s not the only thing. Schools need an 802.11ac Wave 2 network that can:

• Support up-to-the minute notification on mobile devices.
• Detect externally launched attacks and insider threats.
• Automatically adapts to environment changes for optimal performance.

Whether you’re a small coffee shop or a large department store, it’s not just your workers that need exemplary Wi-Fi, customers demand this service too. Cisco Aironet Access Points are great tools to gather data in order to understand customer traffic patterns and behaviors, prioritizing your business-driving apps and better protecting the privacy of your business. Your customers need to be able to jump on a network too and:

• Connect to a custom guest access network (which can be used as another advertising venue).
• Be able to find the things that they want, quicker.
• Adapt to flash crowds during sales events.

In the old days, putting out an array of stale donuts in the morning and offering travelers a bed for the night was the peak of hospitality luxury. Those days are long gone as guests are now a bit savvier than they once were and expect a multitude of high-end services. One of these services is a robust wireless network. If you’re in the hospitality game, you need an 802.11ac Wave 2 compliant network because:

• It delivers mobile check-in, key lock and room control
• It quickly deploys wireless access for conventions and social gatherings
• It adapts to crowd surges during high volume of registration

Where Does Cisco Fit In?
That third bullet brings me to one of the most amazing things about the Cisco Aironet Access Points, and that are the innovations that only Cisco delivers:

Flexible Radio Assignment automatically adjusts radio bands to better serve the environment. A Cisco Aironet Access Point deployed in a hotel lobby can handle a crowd of people armed with mobile devices frantically looking to get settled in their rooms. Flexible Radio Assignment automatically triggers the access point to shift from the dual radios operation at 2.4GHz and 5GHz to both radios offering 5GHz.
• Cisco CleanAir remediates device impacting interference
• Optimized Roaming intelligently connects the proper access point as people move
Multi-Gigabit Uplinks provides faster wired network offload on existing Ethernet

Your Cisco 802.11ac Wave 2 access points aren’t static. They offer investment protection via the ability to expand along with your organization with three ports located on the Cisco Access Point. A smart antenna port allows you to add either another antenna be it of the Stadium Panel, Directional or Location variety. A built-in module port is perfect for connecting hardware such as a video surveillance device. While a USB port allows you to add a Bluetooth capabiities.

Preparing for 802.11ac Wave 2 is not a one-sized-fits-all solution. Cisco has a wide access point portfolio that offers different solutions to fit different situations. The Cisco Aironet 1830 and 1850 Series Access Points are perfect fits for small to medium-sized businesses. These devices offer the functions and features of an enterprise-level access point and they are the lowest cost 802.11ac Wave 2 AP on the market today.

For mission-critical organizations, look no further that Cisco Aironet 2800 Series Access Point. More robust than the Cisco Aironet 1830 and 1850 Access Points, the 2800 Series is built for large sized organizations. Rounding out the portfolio is the Best-in-Class solution: the Cisco Aironet 3800 Access Point. This product is targeted specifically for larger areas such as stadiums and arenas.

To get started on your network redesign, look at our wireless solution pages here and compare the products here.


Prashanth Shenoy

Vice President of Marketing

Enterprise Networking and Mobility