Monday, November 24, 2014

Faster WiFi Coming Soon to a Court Near You

Faster 802.11ac Wireless networks are coming.  Time to start planning.


We are starting our wireless network WiFi upgrade here at the NCSC to the new 802.11ac standard.  There are multiple benefits as I have summarized from this “” article.

1. The main benefit is connection speed – 1.3 gigabits per second but really likely 50-150 gigabits.  Where the higher speed rating comes from is the ability for a router to support eight antennas at over 400 megabits each.  Of course if you are connecting to a single 50 megabit per second internet connection at you home you probably won’t see all that much difference.  But if you are communicating with other devices and servers inside the courthouse, the benefits should be noticeable.

2. Range.  It uses a different 5GHz spectrum and therefore should have less interference.  The second factor is called ‘beamforming’.  “Rather than throw out wireless signal equally in all directions, WiFi with ‘beamforming’ detects where devices are and intensifies the signal in their direction(s).  This should help some with the thick courthouse walls we often run into.

3. Availability.  The devices that use the standard are currently being rolled out.  But be careful. As when previous WiFi standards were in development, some manufacturers have devices that being “sold as ‘Draft 802.11ac’ products.  If you don’t go with a certified device, make sure any routers or similar devices that you might acquire can be certified and use the final standard via a firmware update.

Last, a complete book on the subject, 802.11ac: A Survival Guide is available at O’Reilly Media.

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