Explore 10 facets of the wireless world which will have great impact on the industry this year.
$5 Billion in E-Rate Funding for Wi-Fi in Schools
The FCC is taking steps to modernize E-rate and, in July 2014, ordered an additional $2 Billion over the next two years for Wi-Fi build-out in schools, beginning in 2015, followed by $1 Billion a year for three years.
Recognizing that students and teachers are more dependent than ever on personal mobile devices, the FCC is moving to promote and fund ubiquitous Wi-Fi in schools and libraries. They need a robust Wi-Fi network that will deliver all of the multimedia instruction and programming required for the future.
Until 2015, schools did not have E-rate funding for building robust Wi-Fi networks. The result was low budget, poorly designed, and poorly implemented Wi-Fi networks in many schools. This left the students with a poor experience and missed learning opportunities.
With the E-rate funding and emphasis on designing and installing robust, mission critical networks, schools have the opportunity to fully engage their students with mobile technologies.
Oberon’s ceiling enclosures and secure mounting solutions are designed for Aruba Networks, Cisco, Meru, Meraki, Aerohive, Ruckus and other leading access points used in schools. Here is one popular choice for educational facilities:
In retail environment The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCi-DSS) states that wireless endpoints need to be secured. This is regardless of whether the retailer processes credit cards wirelessly. Security breaches and compromised credit cards have heightened awareness for the need for secure wireless networks. AP enclosures can be used to secure APs in open venues per the PCI-DSS.
Most retail WiFi installations are neither secure or aesthetic.
Oberon’s model 1016 non- metallic surface mount lock box is ideal for securing APs and antennas in retail locations.
Residential Hall WiFi in Universities and Colleges
Colleges and universities have always been on the leading edge of WiFi deployments, and this is extending into HD WiFi in residence halls. In many cases, a AP is placed in every room. In most cases, students only use the WiFi so some universities are actually eliminating the cable outlet in individual rooms. As universities migrate to 802.11ac, the cable outlet in each room needs to be upgraded and repurposed to support the 802.11ac AP.
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Oberon’s Model 1011 right angle wall bracket is used in many residence halls. The right angle bracket orients the AP in the preferred horizontal orientation. Shown with Aruba Networks AP225.
A challenging subset of HD WiFi is Stadium WiFi. Venue owners are recognizing that their fans want to retain their wireless connectivity, even while immersed in the sporting event itself. Stadium WiFi presents a particular installation challenge as
- Stadiums typically do not have a ceiling into which APs may be mounted
- APs may need to be in a NEMA 4 enclosure
- Aesthetics is often paramount in the stadium, and the owner would like the APs to visually disappear if possible.
- There may be hundreds of APs in the facility
Oberon’s NEMA4 waterproof AP enclosures and under seat antenna and AP covers are designed to satisfy the aesthetics in stadium and auditorium locations
Improved WiFi in Hotels & Restaurants
For years hotels have offered WiFi, but often for a fee. Even if the fee were paid, the WiFi experience was often very poor. Generally speaking, these hotel WiFi networks were low budget, low density deployments. Sometimes one AP in a utility closet per floor was considered “good enough”.
Hotels and many other venues such as restaurants now consider wireless the fourth utility (electric, plumbing, heating/cooling and WiFi!). Just as one would expect to have a hotel room with electricity and bathroom, one should now expect to have to have quality WiFi in each room, at no extra cost. In order to provide this utility, hotels will need to improve their WiFi infrastructure, starting with bandwidth from their service provider, upgraded cabled infrastructure, and secure high density AP placement.
Check out the “twisted pair” feeding this hotel AP-minus one antenna. Too often, hotel Wi-Fi deployments in the past were low budget. With wireless considered a fourth utility, more robust WiFi networks are needed.
Oberon’s model 1015 is a surface lock box designed to protect APs in such locations.
Hospitals will continue roll out of their 802.11ac APs to improve overall performance of their mission critical networks, and, as part of ongoing efforts to improve patient experience, provide more bandwidth for patients and patient guests. Now more than ever the APs need to be secured to comply with HIPAA requirements to secure data infrastructure. Also, hospitals frequently use AP enclosures to maintain the barrier between “clean air” in the patient areas and “dirty air” above the ceiling, simplifying Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) procedures while servicing the AP. Emphasizing efforts to protect patients, especially immunocompromised patients who are particularly vulnerable to dust, spores and pathogens above the ceiling, hospitals are using ceiling enclosures for APs as a standard practice. The ceiling enclosures can also maintain desired aesthetics in the hospital.
These gaps in ceiling tiles are not acceptable in a hospital environment, where vulnerable patients need to be protected from dust, spores and pathogens which flourish in the plenum space.
Oberon’s Model 1057 is used in many hospitals to eliminate the gaps in ceiling tiles.
Controller-less WiFi (Cloud WiFi)
Some AP vendors, notably Aerohive, Aruba Networks, and Cisco’s Meraki unit, use a controllerless WiFi architecture. Rather than using a standalone controller appliance to control APs, the AP management is in the Cloud, as Software as a Service (Saas). This architecture will certainly offer advantages in many venues, but it still requires the same cabled infrastructure to the APs. The same considerations for cable bandwidth and AP security, access, maintenance, and aesthetics still apply as they would for a controller based WiFi deployment.
Carrier Wi-Fi (Hotspot 2.0)
Hotspot 2.0 is a standards based protocol which allows mobile devices to automatically join a Wi-Fi subscriber service whenever the user enters a Hotspot 2.0 area, in order to provide better bandwidth and services-on-demand to end-users, while also alleviating demand on limited cellular bandwidth.
According to market research firm Infonetics, the carrier WiFi market has seen a dynamic injection of growth in the last couple of years, driven by fixed and mobile operators seeking to extend and enhance their broadband subscription services. The push for service augmentation and upgrade to the 802.11ac standard, combined with the opportunities presented by Hotspot 2.0, voice over WiFi (VoWiFi), and network functions virtualization (NFV) to derive new service models, will drive the carrier WiFi market to $3 billion in 2018.
CARRIER WiFi MARKET HIGHLIGHTS
- The global carrier WiFi equipment market (carrier WiFi access points and WiFi hotspot controllers) totaled $527 million in 2013, a gain of 9% from the previous year, driven in part by the deployment of small cells with integrated WiFi
- In the first half of 2014 (1H14), carrier WiFi equipment revenue reached $286 million, up 6% from the second half of 2013 (2H13)
- The evolution of network functions virtualization (NFV) offers the opportunity for more cost-effective WiFi service delivery by a range of service providers as well as enterprises and other organizations with existing WiFi (or wireless LAN) deployments
- Cisco, Huawei, and Ruckus Wireless (listed in alphabetical order) are the carrier WiFi market share leaders in 1H14
Clearly, building out the infrastructure for carrier WiFi and Hotspot2.0 will require improvements in location, installation, protection, aesthetics, and interconnection of access points in many public venues, such as airports and malls.
Oberon’s Model 1065 recess wall/ceiling mount for Cisco APs is ideal for airports, malls, and other Carrier WiFi opportunities. Shown with Cisco 3700.
High density Wi-Fi (HD Wi-Fi)
In 2015 High Density, or HD, Wi-Fi will become a well known term. This refers to using a high density of Wi-Fi access points in a facility to provide the needed bandwidth for either high density occupants (such as in a stadium or auditorium) or high data requirements (such as in a residence hall or classroom).
Fortunately, operating 802.11ac APs in the 5 GHz bands will facilitate HD Wi-Fi. Because of the larger number of frequency channels available, WAPS may be placed closer together without their wireless signals interfering with each other. However, the challenge remains in figuring out how to install, conceal, protect, service, and interconnect potentially hundreds of APs in a facility.
In all cases, the designer and installer will have to work closely with the facility owner to determine the best way to mount and protect APs in the facility, while providing the bandwidth and aesthetics the facility occupants expect.
Oberon’s Model 1013 articulating AP and antenna mount is ideal for positioning APs and pointing antennas in HD WiFi environments such as auditoriums and classrooms. The range of motion is +/45 degrees in two axis, permitting the antenna to be pointed as desired. Shown with Cisco 2700e AP and Cisco directive antenna.
IEEE 802.11ac Wave 2 Data Rates to Top 1 Gig
The IEEE 802.11ac amendment engages advanced signal processing to achieve unprecedented data rates. Another big advantage of 802.11ac is that it exploits greater than 400 MHz of bandwidth in the 5 to 6 GHz band- far greater bandwidth than is available in the cellular frequency bands – to provide greater bandwidth to each client device. IEEE 802.11ac is being rolled out in two waves of silicon: the currently available Wave 1 product, and in 2015, Wave 2 products. A summary of the difference between the two waves is as follows:
Wave 1: (currently available)
• 1.3 Gb/s theoretical over the air PHY signaling rates
• ~0.9 Gb/s MAC throughput (at the connector)
• 3 spatial streams and 4 radios
• 80 MHz channels
• Requires 1Gig uplink
Wave 2: Available 2015
• 3.5 Gb/s theoretical over the air PHY signaling rates
• ~2 GB/s MAC throughput (at the connector)
• Up to 8 spatial streams
• 160 MHz channels
• Requires greater than 1Gig uplink!
Another feature of Wave 2 is that it provides for Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO). This is the ability for the AP to engage up to 4 clients simultaneously. In the past, a AP, including 802.11ac Wave 1 WAPS, could engage multiple client devices through time division multiple access, but only one at a time simultaneously. With Wave 2 MU-MIMO, the AP engages up to 4 clients simultaneously, thus increasing the potential data rate through the connector by a factor of 4.
In the past one could make the argument that the data rate of single connected client device would limit the peak, instantaneous, data rate through the AP, connector, and cable. But now with MU-MIMO, the peak instantaneous data rate is a combination of multiple client devices. So, in many venues, the cabling infrastructure must be upgraded to realize the full potential of Wave 2 802.11ac. Clearly an important consideration for rolling out Wave 2 products is the need for cabling infrastructure able to support greater than 1Gig Ethernet connectivity (i.e. CAT6A).
The TIA TSB-162A recommends use of Category 6A cable to each AP location. Many prudent network designers are pulling two Category 6A cables to each location in anticipation of higher bandwidths or additional devices.
Oberon’s ceiling enclosures and mounts include an integral firestop grommet which is large enough for two CAT6A cables.