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802.11ac Wave 2

What you should know about 802.11ac

802.11ac Wave 2 builds upon capabilities that were introduced in 802.11ac to yield even higher performance.

As a refresher, 802.11ac (“Wave 1”) introduced the following:

  • 256 QAM modulation
  • 80 MHz channel support
  • Improved transmit beamforming

These features yielded a significant performance boost over 802.11n, a boost that was realized even by pre-802.11ac client devices. At Ruckus, we witnessed the benefit first-hand following our introduction of the 802.11ac-based ZoneFlex R700 access point (AP).

Enter 802.11ac “Wave 2”. This latest iteration of the technology adds the following:

  • Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO)
  • Up to 4 spatial streams
  • 160 MHz channel support, including 80 MHz + 80 MHz channel bonding

The new Wave 2 technology supports theoretical data rates of 2.3 Gbps in the 5GHz band, up from 1.3 Gbps in Wave 1.

The 4-stream configuration adds one stream to the Wave 1 implementation and can increase data rate sustainability over distance for 4-stream-enabled MIMO clients.

The larger 160 MHz channel size offers dramatic theoretical improvements in data rate. It makes possible the theoretical data rate of 2.3 Gbps. However, the practical difficulty of securing and planning channels of this width will make use of this option rare in practice.

Multi-user MIMO is all about spectral efficiency. It enables the AP to communicate (in the downlink only) simultaneously with multiple MU-MIMO-compatible devices. That makes for more efficient use of spectrum, which is, of course, desirable given the increasing number of devices each of us carries, as well as those we don’t—IoT devices.

An interesting side benefit of MU-MIMO is that even non-Wave 2 clients benefit. That’s because the increase in spectral efficiency enabled by MU-MIMO frees spectrum for non-802.11ac Wave 2 devices. The net result is higher client density, as compared to Wave 1, even in a mixed client environment.

Consistent with its commitment to being the industry’s performance leader, Ruckus now offers the first commercially available Wave 2 outdoor AP, the ZoneFlex T710 Series, and a mid-range Wave 2 2x2:2 indoor AP, the ZoneFlex R510. Complementing the ZoneFlex R710, these Ruckus Wave 2 APs also incorporate BeamFlex+, Ruckus’ patented adaptive antenna technology, and ChannelFly, Ruckus’ dynamic channel management technology.

Working additively with the new technologies introduced in 802.11ac Wave 2, BeamFlex+ technology and ChannelFly technology allow the entire Ruckus 802.11ac portfolio to outperform the industry competitors, providing our customers, once again, with simply better wireless.