WiFi 6 - The New Standard is Coming

Preparing for Wi-Fi 6

Cabling Considerations for High-Efficiency Wireless Access Point Connections

A new wave of Wi-Fi is here. The IEEE 802.11ax Enhancements for High-Efficiency Wireless (HEW). LAN standard1 has far-reaching implications with respect to cabling infrastructure design. Users can expect their current wireless speeds to appreciably increase by switching to Wi-Fi 6. Now more than ever, the specification of high-performance cabling supporting access layer switches and uplink connections is critical to achieving multi-Gigabit throughput and fully supporting the capacity of next-generation wireless access points.

This new standard is rolling out now in a number of large pilot sites. Nexsis have been working closely with the World Broadband Alliance to ensure we are at the forefront of this new wave of Wi-Fi technology.

Cabling implications

  • The correct cabling design strategy will be required to ensure that structured cabling uplinks are ready to support the Wi-Fi 5 and W-Fi 6 wireless LAN devices. The IEEE 802.11ax Enhancements for High-Efficiency Wireless (HEW) LAN standard1 has far-reaching implications with respect to cabling infrastructure design. Users can expect their current wireless speeds to appreciably increase by switching to Wi-Fi 6 gear with greater than 5 Gb/s data rate capability. Plus, 1024-QAM modulation, 160 MHz channel bandwidth, and a maximum of eight spatial streams can theoretically deliver 9.61 Gb/s in the future. Key cabling design strategies to ensure that structured cabling uplinks are ready to support the Wi-Fi 5 and W-Fi 6 wireless LAN devices include:
  • Providing two class EA/category 6A or higher performing horizontal cabling drops to each wireless access point (WAP) or router to facilitate link aggregation, which will be required by devices connecting into the Ethernet network with two ports or having greater than 5 Gb/s data rates. • Installing a minimum 25 Gb/s capable multimode optical fibre backbone to support increased Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 uplink capacity.
  • Utilising a grid-based zone cabling architecture to accommodate additional WAP deployments allows for rapid reconfiguration of coverage areas and provides redundant and future-proof connections.
  • Using solid conductor cords, which exhibit better thermal stability and lower insertion loss than stranded conductor cords, for equipment connections in the ceiling or in plenum spaces where higher temperatures are likely to be encountered.
  • Installing category 6A field-terminatable plugs, to eliminate common installation concerns associated with the use of pre-terminated cords at the equipment end of the installed channel.
  • Recognising that deploying Type 2 PoE to remotely power Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 wireless access points can cause heat to build up in cable bundles. – Shielded category 6A and category 7A cables are qualified for mechanical reliability up to 75° C (167°F), which enables support of the Type 2 PoE application over the entire operating temperature range of -20°C to 60°C (-4°F to 140°F). – Shielded systems are more thermally stable and support longer channel lengths when deployed in high-temperature environments and a larger number of shielded cables may be bundled without concern for excessive heat build-up within the bundle.
  • Specifying compliant connecting hardware ensures that contact seating surfaces are not damaged when plugs and jacks are unmated under Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 remote powering current loads.

Power Consumption Implications

Although Wi-Fi 6 radio chips are equally or more efficient than prior generation wireless chips, they are doing significantly more complex signal processing and the amount of power required to energize Wi-Fi 6 devices is higher than for any previous implementation. In fact, due to complexity, both Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 WAPs are unable to work within the 13-watt budget of Type 1 Power over Ethernet (PoE) and must be supported by either a direct DC power adapter or 30-watt Type 2 PoE remote power.

While safe for humans, Type 2 PoE remote power delivery, at an applied current of 600mA per pair, can produce up to 10°C (22°F) temperature rise in cable bundles and create electrical arcing that can damage connector contacts. Heat rise within bundles has the potential to cause bit errors because insertion loss is directly proportional to temperature. In extreme environments, temperature rise and contact arcing can cause irreversible damage to cable and connectors.

Fortunately, the proper selection of network cabling can eliminate these risks.

To learn more, or just to keep up to date on the latest network infrastructure technology, give Martyn or the team at Nexsis Comms a call and keep an eye on our blog for more info on the new Wi-Fi 6 standard.

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