Before Moving to Wireless AC Consider These Very Important Factors

Recently we looked at some trends in the wireless networks world. (Part 1 and Part 2)

While many people are sticking with wireless N, there are some significant trends showing growth in wireless AC.

That leaves a lot of IT pros wondering about when to move to wireless AC?

On one hand, it’s the latest generation and offers a ton of upside in terms of throughput and client density. But knowing that, there are some factors to consider before making the move.

When Wireless Needs Wires

Of course, this sounds silly on the surface. However, wireless doesn’t mean without connections. While it allows signals to flow from wireless access points without connections, the wireless access points need to be connected to something? This means cables connecting ports.

And with wireless AC it will require more cable runs and more ports. Maybe more cable runs and ports than you think. An article by a network engineer from a large university states the following:

11ac will require two switch ports and two cable runs per access point. Simple AP uplinks now become port channels. Port channels need careful configuration, and can be a nightmare to troubleshoot should one of the four RJ-45 connectors involved with each 11ac port channel get cocked or not sit straight in its port.”

This leads us to the next consideration.

Wireless AC Requires More Ports + More Switching

Getting all the benefits of wireless AC comes with costs. One of those costs is likely adding more switches and/or upgrading your switches. Why?

To say it plainly, all of the cool new capabilities of wireless AC require more help from your switches.  This includes more ports.

More Cable Run? More Ports? What Else?

Well there are a few more considerations.

First, if you are adding more you also have to consider all the costs for maintenance contracts (unless you carefully consider third-party maintenance). Because, as anyone knows, manufacturer maintenance costs can really add up. 

Second, you may have power considerations with adding switches so think about more costs for UPS systems.

If you want a detailed example, please check out this post.

What Are Your Choices?

You have two basic choices.

1. Stick With Wireless N, A, or B

After reviewing all the costs and requirements, maybe it isn’t the ideal time to make the move to wireless AC. That’s fine. Every organization is different. Do what is right for your organization.

And here’s a tip. If you are going this route, one way you can save a whole lot of money is by opting for high-quality pre-owned hardware with a rock solid warranty. Do your homework and decide for yourself.

2. Move to Wireless AC with as few costs as possible.

So you've made the choice to make the move to wireless AC. You considered all the requirements and extra costs and it still is the right investment.

That doesn’t mean you have to overpay for those extras switches, maintenance, UPS systems, etc.

You can have high performance and reliability… and save a big chunk of money if you purchase quality pre-owned switches and other hardware. Don’t skimp on that performance and reliability. Know the truth about network hardware reliability and make an informed decision. 

Speaking of not skimping on performance, make sure you choose top quality cables. The last thing you want is your new high-performance solution to fall flat on its face because you wanted to save a few bucks and went with lesser quality cables. Get the highest quality cables you can at an affordable price.

Whether you decide to go with Wireless AC or not, make sure you are picking the right technology for your organization and making informed decisions that will enable top performance while managing costs.

If you'd like to learn more about wireless, you should watch these insightful videos:


Image courtesy of Pixabay