There is no one simple answer here. At some point, maybe in 5 years, the time to invest will be “NOW!” But when we talk about investment into 802.11ac, we like to take a slow and progressive approach.
Here are some questions that change the investment conversation. Are you building out a new building? Are you moving offices? Are you implementing new technology critical to job performance? Are you experiencing pain points due to an excessive number of devices requiring WiFi?
When moving to a new office, constructing a new building, or implementing new technology such as IPads used to support customers like at an Apple store, it is a good idea to consider investing into 802.11ac. No refresh is required and the slate is clean to build out what that investment looks like with little to no impact on the business.
Now, let’s change the conversation.
Do you have an office with critical infrastructure that uses older versions of 802.11? Here the simple investment decision is “no.” It would not make sense to make an investment into faster speeds when faster speeds are only reached when the router and device run 802.11ac.
Another thing to consider when talking about refreshing your older APs to 802.11ac is that it is not a one to one ratio. 802.11ac uses 5GHz which means density becomes a major success factor. This means that you are going to need more APs than you currently have and a redesign of AP placement must be implemented. It also means that your costs are going to be higher not only in needing more APs but needing licenses for those APs.
Maybe you are having a major influx of new devices causing issues of speed and latency for your users. For example, your sales team grew and they use 802.11ac smart phones, smart pads, computers, smart watches, etc. which are connected all the time. It may be good to refresh the APs on that floor or in that area.
The recommendation to anyone who is looking at 802.11ac is to begin to make small investments especially in places where 802.11ac is already widely in use. The example above of a sales floor that is littered with 802.11ac capable devices, would be a good place to think about moving towards 802.11ac.
A final thing to understand is that 802.11ac will become the standard and it comes down to how quickly organizations adopt it. At some point your company will be at a competitive disadvantage (if your business utilizes WiFi for critical operations) if you do not upgrade to 802.11ac in the next 5 years or so.
To learn more about 802.11ac check out our blog 802.11ac: What is all the Hype?
If you need help understanding your current wireless infrastructure, the potential challenges you will run into in the future, and how to being implementing 802.11ac give our wireless experts a ring.
858-866-9702 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.