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How to successfully implement 802.11ac in your organisation

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Simon Lee, Vice President of Sales – Asia Pacific, Fluke Networks provides guidance on the best practices for migrating to the new 802.11ac wireless technology within organisations.

Successful deployment of 802.11ac begins with a clear understanding of how the technology works so that the expected coverage and improved data rates can be achieved.

According to Simon Lee, understanding the underlying technology of 802.11ac is critical when considering deployment because it is still susceptible to all the impacting factors within WiFi environments such as non-Wi-Fi interference, co-channel interference, poor signal quality, noise and channel sharing with slower legacy clients.

Best practices for 802.11ac deployment

Planning and site evaluation

Since the new 802.11ac implementations will be done in parallel with legacy a/b/g/n systems, and 802.11ac is backward compatible with a/n deployments that use the 5 GHz band, there is no need to completely remove older APs. However, it is important to identify the devices that are already competing for RF space and how 802.11ac can complement the environment to achieve the project performance goals.

Key components of planning include a pre-deployment survey to determine present device configuration, noise levels, interference sources, signal coverage and capacity, in addition to an examination of throughput needs and channel allocation.

Deployment and validation

Once the capacity needs and the coverage area are ascertained, the 802.11ac APs should be configured and deployed according to the design plan. This stage of the implementation involves several considerations when planning AP configuration and location including switching infrastructure, channel width and AP coverage, and goes much beyond simply removing the old APs and connecting the new 802.11ac APs in the same locations.

Troubleshooting and optimisation

Adjustments can be made in the event the desired objectives in user throughput are not achieved. To ensure performance goals are met, begin by determining the specific wireless factors in the environment that are contributing to the reduced performance. Adjustments may include changing AP placement, installing additional APs, adjusting the channel plan, eliminating sources of interference or adjusting transmit power to affect the cell size.

Simon Lee concludes by saying that unless careful planning, validation, and optimisation steps are considered, the potential gains of 802.11ac wireless technology will be lost due to impacts from the previous environment, excessive noise, poor channel planning or poor AP placement.

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