Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why it's the right time to start working in 802.11 wireless: new protocols are coming

So you thought that 802.11n was the ultimate protocol, allowing 300 Mbps, maybe up to 450 Mbps? If you are not working in wireless yet, now is the right time to think about switching career, and starting to get a few certifications in the 802.11 wireless field: new protocols are coming that will change the deal for a long time, and make 802.11 THE protocol you want to be expert on. So get some Cisco wireless training and prepare for the storm to come:

  • 802.11ac is the first big one. This amendment is planned for end of 2012, and will increase wireless speeds in the 5 GHz band beyond the 1 Gbps bar. Its also brings very clever enhancements. For example, 70 % of the cell traffic is from the AP to the clients. Knowing that, 802.11ac has mechanisms where the AP could use a 160 MHz wide channel, and allocate sub-sections of this mega channel to groups of clients, allowing several clients to communicate at the same time with the AP! When 802.11ac will come out, new APs with up to 8 antennas will appear on the market, and your favorite wireless hardware vendor will have a few golden years ahead of them to replace the old 802.11n APs!

  • 802.11ad does not make a lot of noise, but is an important amendment, to be released also by the end of 2012. 802.11ad brings the 802.11 protocol to the 57-66 GHz band. Why there? Because this is the range of frequencies your home devices will use to communicate. With 802.11ad, your TVs, hifi system, speakers and any other electronic device in your home will be able to communicate and exchange data. This way, you will be able to watch a movie on a TV, hearing the sound wirelessly through your HD speakers, then move the movie to another TV seamlessly. This may look like geeky accessories, but soon you will see a booming demand of 802.11 professional to install, maintain and troubleshoot home systems.

  • 802.11ah brings 802.11 below 1 GHz, into the many unlicensed bands available at these low frequencies. This allows 802.11 to be used at longer range, and send 802.11 signals along highways to provide tons of information to travelling users, but also to communicate over several miles from one antenna. Throughput will not be very high (100kbps is the target), but there are countless businesses who employ regional employees and need to stay in touch with them and send data. Here again, a big demand for 802.11 professionals will appear as theses systems are sold and deployed... worldwide. 802.11ah should come in 2014.
  • 802.11af is a great scavenger amendment. TVs signals were analog, and became digital. At the same time, they changed frequency. There is a rich collection of low frequencies abandoned by analog TV that are available for who wants them... and 802.11af is there to take them! 802.11af should be published some time in 2014. Its exact scope is still changing, but every day sees new possible applications, from internet for rural areas, to monitoring sensors reporting to central stations, or nationwide alert systems... and all that, using the good 802.11 protocol.
All this is exciting! 802.11ac will be the first wave driving sales and demand, and the other amendments to follow will deepen the need for wireless expertise. So start your journey and join us in the 802.11 world! :-)


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