Improvement for existing 802.11n clients with new 802.11ac APs

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Do you anticipate there will be a significant performance improvement for existing 802.11n clients when 802.11ac APs are deployed in a network ? Or will their performance be largely the same?


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Nigel Bowden

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  • happy

Posted 5 years ago

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Ronald Esveld

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I think the answer is that it really improves the 802.11n clients.

I tried it myself with a 40MHz channel which gave me about 45 ~ 50 Mbit on 5GHz and with AC and 80MHz channel it gave me more than 60 mbit.

Specifically it has the built-in beamforming in the standard which improves it a lot.

That's how i see it.

b rgds,
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Matthew Gast

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The performance of 802.11n clients on an individual basis will be very similar to what it is in an 802.11n network. You can't magically improve the capabilities of existing devices without upgrading them. However, you will start to see improved network performance right away with the upgrade.

Each generation of 802.11 chips has improved, and will give you better rate over range. (That is, at a given distance, you will have better speed.) Although the data rate doesn't increase, the data rate at your typical distance from the AP may increase. When I first upgraded to 802.11n at home, I noticed that my 802.11g devices were able to obtain service at the 54 Mbps rate at much greater distances. 802.11ac chips will incorporate lessons learned from building ten years worth of 802.11 devices, and will have improved receiver performance.

If you measure performance as the overall bit rate from the network, 802.11ac provides benefits from the moment the first 802.11ac device is used. An 802.11ac device takes less time to transmit at high data rates, so it can hop on, burst its message, and hop off. (With frame aggregration, it's possible to transmit frames that are megabytes long in 11ac -- and a megabyte in 11ac may go faster than 1,500 bytes at 11b rates!) More formally, the latency of a network depends on the average queue length. By enabling devices to get on, send their data, and get off, 802.11ac can improve the performance of all applications.
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Tom Carpenter

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Would you agree, however, that on loaded APs, the very fact that the 11ac (with some vendors) APs will have more memory and a faster processor will grant greater potential actualized throughput for a full load of 11n clients even though the "protocol" layers aren't really improved (for those 11n clients)? Seems to make sense to me, but hard to test in a lab :-)