Planning for Wireless Growth in Buildings

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the number of wireless devices in the world is increasing. Five years ago, digital analysts declared that the number of devices had officially surpassed the number of people in the world. And, by 2025, analysts predict there will be 6 to 10 networked devices per person.

wireless demands strain building infrastructure
The number of wireless devices continues to grow, pushing the evolution of wireless access points, as well as Wi-Fi standards and technologies

To keep up with this demand, wireless access points (WAPs) have evolved. Today’s largest WAPs can support up to 200 client devices. This sounds like a lot, until you think about a large office building, university lecture hall, convention hotel, or airport. In facilities like these, large numbers of employees, students, and travelers are connecting multiple devices: a laptop computer, wireless phone, tablet, smart watch, handheld game console, or any number of other connected devices – potentially all at the same time! And, don’t forget building functions: many of the sensors and devices that connect and control lighting, HVAC, and security systems connect wirelessly. Suddenly, those 200 client devices are accounted for pretty quickly.  

Wireless standards and technologies have also evolved to meet demand. In a span of just 10 short years, wireless technology has seen Wi-Fi 4, 5, and 6. The newest standard, Wi-Fi 6, offers improved data rates, better performance in high-density applications, and reduced latency over previous versions, and is poised to become the fastest growing wireless standard in history. And, while Wi-Fi 6 is not yet commonly deployed, engineers are already working on the next evolution: Wi-Fi 7.

This ongoing evolution of WAPs, standards, and technologies makes it imperative that the layer 1 physical infrastructure also evolve. The move to bigger and faster WAPs has put a strain on the underlying network and the cabling infrastructure that supports it.

Install Wireless with an Eye on the Future

Whether you’re looking to add or upgrade WAPs in your building to support your wireless needs today, when it comes to the infrastructure connecting those WAPs, you should consider not only what you need today, but tomorrow, as well. Because, as we can all see, wireless demand isn’t going to decreas.

For two key reasons, Category 6A cabling is the cabling of choice for WAPs:

  • Category 6A supports 10GBASE-T, a requirement for Wi-Fi 6 and 7
  • Category 6A has optimal PoE performance

To ensure your cabling plant can support wireless growth in the future, Panduit recommends the installation of four Category 6A cables per access point. Why four?

  • Many buildings often need to increase Wi-Fi density, and having additional cables in the ceiling makes upgrading Wi-Fi density quick, easy, and cost-effective
  • The Wi-Fi 7 standard is expected to require two 10GBASE-T links, both running over Category 6A cable
  • Therefore, 4 cables are recommended for both increased density and future Wi-Fi 7 needs
  • Installing the 4 cables upfront provides the lowest possible cost

Learn More!

The impacts of these latest Wi-Fi advances are spelled out in greater detail in our new white paper, Wi-Fi 5, 6, and 7: Insights and Impacts on Cabling Infrastructure. Download it today to learn more about the improvements and advances in wireless technology and how to make sure the cabling plant you install to meet today’s wireless needs will grow with your building.

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