The so called “bitter truth” about 802.11ac Wi-Fi – and what service providers can do to improve performance and coverage indoors – has been revealed in a white paper published today.
Titled “Maximizing In-house Wi-Fi Coverage and Performance,” the white paper evaluates the advanced technology of 802.11ac, recognizing its benefits but also highlighting several limitations which mean it cannot always deliver on its promise. These drawbacks include a shorter range when compared to 802.11n, reducing the coverage, and high signal attenuation as a result of physical obstacles such as concrete and wooden walls.
Iskratel – a leading European infocommunications vendor and solutions provider – goes on to outline how remote Access Points (satellites) need to be installed on the Home Gateway in order to remedy this loss of coverage and performance. Both Wi-Fi mesh and wired access points are compared, with the white paper concluding that wired ones deliver a much superior performance and tests showing improved throughput efficiency of between 63% and 99% on average.
“As consumers are now accustomed to being able to access Wi-Fi anywhere, any time and on any device, it is absolutely vital for service providers to deliver optimum in-home Wi-Fi coverage and performance,” said Tomo Bogataj, Strategic Marketing at Iskratel and author of the white paper. “Regardless of specific materials and construction of the building, the Wi-Fi signal has to be brought to all parts of it – or the users will not be able to make use of wireless connectivity. This whole-home coverage and high performance can be difficult to achieve without a wired backhaul access point.”
The tests were conducted in a number of typical wood-constructed, three-storey family houses, with the main 802.11ac AP located at the lower level and Wi-Fi clients at all three levels. For testing the backhaul, one satellite was located at the main level and one at the top level. In comparison to Wi-Fi backhaul, the wired backhaul improved throughput efficiency by a factor of four on average.
According to Iskratel, for the best reach and performance, all the access points need to be connected to the Home Gateway using wired backhaul, with options including Ethernet cabling, coax cables, copper pairs and powerlines. The white paper goes on to compare these methods, concluding that powerlines often provide the most suitable solution.
“Though Ethernet provides the best option, most homes were not built with these installations and adding them later is not usually an option,” said Bogataj. “On the other hand, powerlines are inherently present and widespread in all buildings. Therefore, using powerline communications to connect satellite access points to the Home Gateway is the least intrusive and hassle-free method, as it requires no dedicated cabling or additional installations.”
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