HDX Blog Series #3: 802.11ac Beamforming At Its Best: ClientLink 3.0
Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part deep dive series into High Density Experience (HDX), Cisco’s latest solution suite designed for high density environments and next-generation wireless technologies. For more on Cisco HDX, visit www.cisco.com/go/80211ac. Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here.
The 802.11ac wireless networking standard is the most recent introduction by the IEEE (now ratified), and is rapidly becoming more accepted and reliable industry standard. The good news is that the client and vendor adoption rate for 802.11ac is growing at a much higher pace as compared to when 802.11n was introduced back in 2009. There has been an accelerated growth seen with the mobile and laptop devices entering the wireless market embedded with an 802.11ac WiFi chipset. Unlike in the past, laptop, smartphone and tablet manufacturers are now acknowledging the fact that staying up to date with the latest Wi-Fi standards is as important for the bandwidth hungry users as having a better camera or a higher resolution display.
With the launch of the new 802.11ac AP 3700, Cisco introduces the Cisco HDX (High Density Experience) Technology. Cisco HDX is a suite of solutions aimed towards augmenting the higher performance, more speed and better client connectivity that 802.11ac standard delivers today.
ClientLink 3.0 features as an integral part of Cisco HDX technology designed to resolve the complexities that comes along with the new BYOD trend driving the high proliferation of 802.11ac capable devices.
So what is ClientLink 3.0 technology and how does it work?
ClientLink 3.0 is a Cisco patented 802.11ac/n/a/g beamforming technology which is designed to enable the access point with implicit beamforming (requiring no client participation, or any special software or hardware on the wireless client devices) in addition to the explicit standard-based beamforming mechanisms that is defined in the 802.11ac standard. ClientLink 3.0 thrives on the advanced signal processing techniques in combination with the 4×4 antenna design to transmit an optimized RF signal in the downlink direction – from the AP to the client – thus improving the quality of the client connectivity, and resulting in a more stable network connection over a larger cell size.
Here’s a quick look at how Cisco’s ClientLink beamforming solutions have advanced in client optimizations over the years as the Wireless LAN industry made progress from 802.11a/g to 802.11n and now to 802.11ac standard:
How does ClientLink 3.0 technology complement 802.11ac?
802.11ac brings in multiple enhancements to improve the wireless speeds, connectivity and performance for your WiFi network. One of these enhancements is the increase in the maximum physical data rate (higher level modulation: 256-QAM) at which the client connects and exchanges information over the air. With 802.11ac Wave-1, clients can connect up to a maximum of 1300 Mbps PHY data rate. ClientLink 3.0 provides a boost to the client connectivity as the optimized RF energy allows the clients to stay connected at the highest data rates possible (up to a greater distance in the coverage cell). Without ClientLink 3.0 it gets difficult to consistently achieve robust 256-QAM connection over a large cell area as the client moves away from the AP.
How will ClientLink 3.0 technology actually help in a real-world environment?
To practically understand the real-world benefits with a competitive outline, we tested out Cisco’s ClientLink 3.0 with AP 3700 against a leading competitor which implements just the standard based explicit beamforming. This test case provides an insight on how Cisco’s latest beamforming solution helps the client to sustain maximum possible 802.11ac data rates over a larger area of the cell.
Cisco’s ClientLink 3.0 technology enables Cisco AP-3700 to not only have that differential advantage over competition by maintaining the highest 802.11ac data rates at more times and up to a greater distance, but also comprehensively functions to yield:
a) An improved signal coverage
b) Lower packet retry rates due to better connectivity
c) Higher throughput performance even at longer distances, especially at the edge of the cell
d) An increased overall capacity of the cell
So will ClientLink 3.0 also benefit my wireless network transition from 802.11n to 802.11ac?
Absolutely! Every new wireless standard adoption comes with the challenge of a mixed device environment. We saw it with 802.11n running with the mix of .11a/g devices and now with 802.11ac, a more convoluted mix of .11a/g/n devices. There is a high chance that your work office or enterprise will have a blended presence of legacy 802.11a/g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac client devices coexisting together. As ClientLink 3.0 makes use of both implicit & explicit standard based beamforming and is capable of functioning independently of client feedback, it helps solve the mixed-client networks issue by enabling higher data rates for both legacy and newer clients even when they are connected to the same access point.
So once you unleash Cisco’s HDX Technology in to your wireless network, you can rest assured that ClientLink 3.0 will always be actively optimizing your client connectivity in the background, allowing you to blissfully enjoy the benefits of 802.11ac with a more efficient and higher performing WiFi experience.
For more info on ClientLink3.0 and Cisco’s HDX technology solution for high density environments, check out www.cisco.com/go/80211ac.