May 23, 2013     

Chris DePuy at Ethernet Summit May 23 2013 Chris DePuy kicked off the session with some of his research to set the scene:

  • The overall Wireless LAN market is expected to grow for at least the next five to ten years.
  • The enterprise plus outdoor portions of the market are set to be a multi-billion dollar growth industry.
  • The new upgrade cycle is just starting and so we will start to see enterprise class devices with 802.11ac shipping this calendar year.
  • An aspect to keep a close eye on is the co-operation and competition between Ethernet switching and Wireless LAN in the campus.  Last year enterprise wireless LAN was a relatively small fraction of the total access part of the enterprise market, and in five years we expect the wireless LAN will be a much larger part of that market. To address these changes in the market, we have recently launched our Enterprise Edge program.

Joining Chris DePuy to discuss and debate the topic were panelists:

Matthew Gast Director of Product Management, Aerohive
Walt Shaw Director of Product Management, Cisco
Steven Glapa Snr Director of Marketing, Ruckus Wireless
Angus Robertson Director Global Services, Spirent Communications
Dirk Gates Executive Chairman & Founder, Xirrus


Chris DePuy asked the panel how soon customers will demand 802.11ac for enterprise class devices.

Key takeaways from panelists:

  • There’s interest now, but not demand for 802.11ac.  Clients lead infrastructure and adoption for 802.11ac will be much quicker than 802.11n due to client availability, e.g. mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The lag between enterprise class APs and clients is relatively short whereas the lag with 802.11n was three years.  The big demand from enterprises will more likely happen next year – although vendor products will be in the market earlier than that.
  • Interoperability is an assurance many customers want.  They are waiting for the launch of the Wireless Broadband Alliance certification program for 802.11ac which is due this summer.
  • Enterprise class features that make Wi-Fi work seamlessly take much longer to bring to market.

Chris DePuy asked about the two flavors of 802.11ac – one that’s coming now, wave one; and then wave two, happening later.  Is it worth it for enterprise customers to wait for wave two? 

Key takeaways from panelists:

  • It’ll only get better in wave two; but don’t wait for it!
  • The technology and Wi-Fi has been changing rapidly enough that we’re seeing refresh cycles below five years down to three years, unlike Ethernet, which is stretching out.  In this case, if you’ve got a relatively old Wi-Fi solution (early 802.11n or 802.11a/g) – don’t wait for wave two!
  • General consensus was that wave two is likely not going to happen until 2014 for consumer-grade devices, and 2015 for enterprise class.  (Although Quantenna recently announced one of the first wave two chipsets will be available in Q3 and they’ll support multi-user MIMO.  This could potentially mean some of the first wave two devices enter the market by the end of 2013).
  • Some service provider customers are looking at AC for marketing purposes – saying they have an 802.11ac-ready network sounds better.
  • 802.11ac is good at increasing capacity. If you’re just trying to deliver raw capacity to end users in a high-density environment, n is perfectly fine.
  • Important co-existence features in 802.11ac allow you to set up a wide channel and give the capability to expand-to-fill.  It’s not just about the maximum data rate.

Chris DePuy shared his market forecast with the panel, of an anticipated installed base of around 10M service provider Wi-Fi hotspots in five years; and that SP Wi-Fi infrastructure could support as much as half of public mobile device traffic in five years.  He asked if 802.11ac will be part of that 10M installed base, and if so, why would a service provider care about that? 

Key takeaways from panelists:

  • The bottom line comes down to business justification and cost.  With 802.11ac everything is going to be faster, not just the technology but the adoption and the price erosion. Will Hotspots be 802.11ac?  Yes, they will be 802.11ac when that technology, and the premium for that technology, is virtually zero above 802.11n.  That’s probably in this upgrade cycle – a relatively short period of time (within six months to a year) we are going to see AC at the same or lower price points than you see 802.11n today.  Then there is no reason for Hotspots not to be 802.11ac.
  • It depends on who the carrier is.  Client adoption is quite aggressive for 802.11ac and so a lot of the higher end smartphones are 802.11ac-enabled now, e.g. Samsung Galaxy S4.  If you want to maximize that type of usage, tier one carriers could look at 802.11ac as way to leverage that growth.
  • High client density deployments in stadiums, auditoriums, are ideal for 802.11ac where you have better efficiency, wider bandwidth to support more clients.
  • A related development in the Wi-Fi standards world is Hotspot 2.0 – think ‘virtualization of Wi-Fi capacity.’  There is a convergence of the enterprise and carrier worlds that will be enabled and accelerated by Hotspot 2.0, which enables, for instance, a financial services firm to sell a portion of its wireless LAN capacity to a mobile operator to help them with offload.  This is already happening.
  • Some of the TD-LTE operators’ networks are changing in the space of digital IP networks. For example, we are seeing many more subscribers on their Internet side, and not as many subscribers on their traditional RF video offering.  They see an opportunity to go to an all-digital network, which means they don’t have to spend as much money on that set-top box and that RF connection, which in turn relates to the adoption of those tablets and those smart TVs all using 802.11ac.  So the overall environment is shifting towards this capability facilitating broader adoption of 802.11ac faster.

Please note:  The panelist responses were edited and combined for brevity. 


Posted by AdminDG Dell'Oro on May 23, 2013

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