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Cisco Brings Gigabit Wireless to Life with the AP3600 + 802.11ac Module: Demo Highlights

Frequent Contributor
Jameson Blandford
Jameson Blandford | October 18, 2012 at 5:00 am PST

Originally published on


The question isn’t IF your users will need more bandwidth, but WHEN they will need more bandwidth. 802.11ac represents the next evolution of the 802.11 standard, and, as you’ve heard, this one really pegs the gas petal in the quest for speed. Offering a link-rate of up to 1.3Gbps, 802.11ac  represents the first wireless standard that surpasses the gigabit  barrier.

But what makes 802.11ac unique isn’t just bandwidth. The new standard represents a forced push to the cleaner 5GHz spectrum, as well as  extended battery life, made possible by getting devices on and off the air more quickly. To learn more about the technical details under the  hood of 802.11ac reference this whitepaper.

Cisco’s Aironet Access Point 3600 and an alpha version of the 802.11ac module were demonstrated during Cisco’s presentation during Wireless Field Day 3 (the demo occurs at timestamp 15:30 in the video). Keep in mind that this is a demonstration of a pre-released product so it is expected that  throughput and functionality will change and likely increase when the product is available for customers in early 2013.

The test goal was to measure one client, one Access Point 802.11ac performance and leveraged Ixia’s IxChariot to generate UDP traffic over the air. The test was done in an open real world environment, so the achieved throughput is less than what would be expected in a clean RF  environment typical of a benchmark test.

Here are some of the major highlights of that demonstration:

  • A link-rate of 1.3Gbps was achieved. This screenshot is taken from a  laptop running Windows 7 with an 802.11ac adapter installed.

  • Throughput peaked at 583Mbps using a Dell client laptop with an 802.11ac Broadcom chipset installed.

  • 802.11ac’s 80MHz-wide channel bandwidth was exhibited on Cisco’s  Spectrum Expert application. Below is a comparison chart showcasing the  difference between 802.11n and 802.11ac.

It’s not often that a new wireless standard comes around that can offer a quantum leap in performance; 802.11ac does exactly this, and it’s even rarer to see speeds boosted without a complete rip and replace of the current infrastructure.

Cisco is the only enterprise WLAN vendor that offers customers a modular architecture with capability to supercharge their current WLAN infrastructure and support wireless rates of over a Gigabit-per-second;  all this on the currently available Aironet 3600-series Access Point with the drop-in 11ac module coming in early 2013.