802.11ac FAQ


Q. Why should customers buy Meru’s 802.11ac solution?

A. The primary reason for upgrading to 802.11ac is increased capacity and speed. Meru expects to deliver the world’s fastest 802.11ac AP, providing 2.6 Gbps data rates through two 5 GHz 802.11ac radios. In addition to having two 802.11ac radios versus the single radio provided by most vendors, because of its unique single-channel, Virtual Cell architecture, Meru recommends using 80 MHz channels, while the competition recommends using 40 MHz channels, as required by their multi-channel implementation. This allows Meru to provide an AP that operates twice as fast. Meru also has a comprehensive set of software and management tools, including centralized network management, identity management, WIPS and PCI compliance, and cloud controller support.

Q. When will Meru start shipping 802.11ac products?

A. Meru expects to start shipping the AP832 802.11ac access point in late Q3, early Q4 2013.

Q. How do I buy Meru’s 802.11ac access point?

A. Call us at 416-491-3900 or drop us a line HERE.

Q. What is the upgrade path for current customers who have 802.11n access points and controllers?

A. Existing Meru controllers can be upgraded to support 802.11ac using the latest firmware SD 6.0 which will be available for download when the AP832 begins general shipments. As customers upgrade their existing APs with 802.11ac APs and deploy them in highly trafficked environments, such as convention halls, meeting rooms, and auditoriums, their existing Meru controllers will be able to manage and support these new APs. To take advantage of 802.11ac, customers need to
buy the new 802.11ac AP832 access point.

Q. How many 802.11ac APs are supported by each controller model?

A. The same number of 802.11ac APs will be supported by each controller model as are supported in existing controller models:
• MC1550: 50 APs
• MC3200: 200 APs
• MC4200: 500 APs
• MC6000: 5,000 APs

Q. Will 802.11ac create bottlenecks for controller-based technologies?

A. No, it shouldn’t. Meru offers WLAN controllers that support multiple 10 Gbps interfaces and high availability for massive, scalable 802.11ac wireless LAN networks. Meru also supports Bridge-mode, which decouples the data plane, so that data do not need to flow through the controller. During 802.11n’s ratification period, similar concerns were raised about the centralized architecture, but fears about the lack of bandwidth through a controller proved unjustified. Meru’s architecture is designed to allow you to continue using your existing infrastructure and migrate to larger controllers, or a distributed data plane, when the need dictates.

Q. Will I need to run an extra 1 Gbps Ethernet drop to the access point?

A. This is not mandatory, but should be considered. While the 802.11ac AP offered by most vendors will typically support only one 802.11ac radio with data rates approaching 1 Gbps, Meru’s AP832 will support data rates up to 2.6 Gbps, which exceeds the capacity of a 1 Gbps Ethernet connection. If the Meru AP832 access point is set up to run both radios using 802.11ac, it will be necessary to run an additional 1 Gbps Ethernet link to the AP to take full advantage of the increase in speed.

Q. Should customers start planning for 802.11ac today?

A. Yes. Any new network put in place today should last four to six years. With 802.11ac products starting to ship, it makes sense to consider how your network will incorporate this new standard. When selecting your network, you should consider high-density environments such as convention halls, meeting rooms, and auditoriums or spaces that routinely utilize HD video or cloud storage services. In addition, BYOD clients such as smartphones and tablets are already coming to market with 802.11ac built in (e.g., the latest Samsung Galaxy phones).

Q. How do I get support for Meru’s 802.11ac AP?

A. All Meru products are sold with 12 months of support, with continued support contracts available in 12-month increments. In addition, through our MeruAssure Support program, our customers can obtain additional support services for our access points, controllers, and software.

Q. What is 802.11ac?

A. 802.11ac is the next generation of Wi-Fi technology being standardized by the IEEE following the existing 802.11n standard. It is intended to support networks that run faster and more efficiently.

Q. How is 802.11ac different from 802.11n?

A. 802.11ac provides greater performance than 802.11n, with first-generation products operating at up to 1.3 Gbps maximum data rates, or about 3X faster than the maximum 450 Mbps data rate of today’s 802.11n products. 802.11ac operates only in the 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum, whereas 802.11n operates in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrums.

Q. Is 802.11ac backward compatible with 802.11n and older Wi-Fi standards?

A. Yes, depending on the type of client and network. Existing 802.11n 5 GHz and 802.11a clients will be able to connect to 802.11ac networks. These types of clients are typically labeled 802.11abgn, 802.11abg, or 802.11an. Similarly, new 802.11ac clients will be able to connect to 802.11abgn 5 GHz networks. 802.11n 2.4 GHz and 802.11bg clients will still require an 802.11bgn network that supports 2.4 GHz, but it is expected that most AP products will support both bands. These types of clients are typically labeled 802.11bgn or 802.11bg.

Q. When will the 802.11ac standard be ratified?

A. The final certification of the 802.11ac standard by the IEEE is expected to be completed by late Q4 2013. Products will show up in the market in advance of the final standard, but it is anticipated that there will be minimal changes to the standard between first product availability and the final certification.

Q. What is Multi-User MIMO?

A. Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) is a part of the 802.11ac standard that defines how an access point can communicate to up to four (4) clients simultaneously. Leveraging the capability of beamforming, this feature incrementally increases the total active client capacity for the network. This feature, however, is not supported in the first generation of 802.11ac silicon but should be available in the second generation product in late 2014 or early 2015.

Q. What is the difference between 802.11ac and 802.11ad?

A. 802.11ac and 802.11ad are two different wireless standards in development by the IEEE. 802.11ad works in the 60 GHz frequency band, as opposed to Wi-Fi, which operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. The 802.11ad standard is expected to be used more as a wireless replacement for short wired connections such as HDMI, USB, and laptop docking stations.