Showing posts with the label 5GHz

The 5GHz “Problem” For Wi-Fi Networks: DFS

Wi-Fi networking provides us with 2 bands for the operation of wireless LAN networks: the 2.4Ghz band and the 5GHz band. The 2.4GHz band has a reputation of being something of a “sewer” of a band, due to its limited number of usable channels, the number of Wi-Fi devices already using the band, and the high levels of non-Wi-Fi interference that it experiences. Many wireless LAN professionals will generally advise that you put your “important stuff” on the 5GHz band whenever possible. 5GHz has far more channels available, a corresponding lower number of devices per channel, and generally suffers much lower non-Wi-Fi interference. However, beneath the headline of “2.4Ghz = bad, 5Ghz = good”, there lurks a shadowy figure that can be troublesome if you’re not aware of its potential impact: DFS. Background Wi-Fi networks operate in areas of RF spectrum that require no licence to operate. This is in contrast to many other areas of the radio spectrum that generally require some form of (p

Updated White Paper on Licence-Exempt Spectrum in the 5GHz band for Wireless LANs in the UK

For the past few years, I've maintained a white paper on the use of the 5GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi networks here in the UK. As Wi-Fi text books tend to focus on the spectrum available in the USA, I put this document together to clarify how 5GHz spectrum may be used in the UK. Following the release of a Voluntary National Specification document by Ofcom in August 2017 ( VNS 2030/8/3 ), additional channels became available for use in the UK on 5GHz. As we now have additional spectrum, it's time for an update to my white paper to detail the new spectrum that is available. Prior to updating the white paper, I published a summary sheet that shows the new spectrum allocation. This can be obtained obtain from my previous blog article:  UK 5GHz WLAN Spectrum Allocation (August 2017)  (this is definitely one to print off and laminate). I have now completed my updates to the white paper, which I am pleased to share with you now. Note that in addition to adding the new spectrum det

Noise Floor Penalty of Wider Channels in Wi-Fi Networks

I’ve been told a number of times that although wider channels in a Wi-Fi network generally provide a higher connection speed (and hopefully a higher throughout), it comes at the cost of increasing the perceived noise floor of the client device. I thought it would be interesting to test this out for myself. With the advent of 802.11n, it became possible to bond together the 20MHz wide channels of earlier standards in to 40MHz channels (though in reality, this was only practically feasible on the 5GHz band). Several years later, 802.11ac enabled us to bond together even larger chunks of contiguous channels and achieve 80MHz and 160MHz wide channels on the 5GHz band. Though 80MHz channels are not feasible in many environments and 160MHz is limited to very niche scenarios, they nonetheless are options. Theoretically, each time we double our channel width, we are going to double our connection speed and our throughput (there are some protocol efficiencies achieved which mean we may slightly

UK 5GHz WLAN Spectrum Allocation (August 2017)

In August 2017, Ofcom in the UK made some additional channels available in the 5GHz band for license exempt usage. The details can be found in the following Ofcom document:  VNS – Voluntary National Specification 2030/8/3 This means that we have an additional 6 x 20Mhz channels available for use here in the UK for our Wi-Fi networks. This also translates in to a possible additional 3 x 40MHz channels and 2 x  80 MHz channels. I have put together a cheat sheet showing the 5GHz channels now available in the UK, together with a few useful references. You can download the sheet from here: link

5GHz in the UK White Paper (Version 2)

[Note: The information in this white paper has been superseded. Check out my updated white paper: ] I decided it was time to update my white paper detailing the use of the 5GHz band here in the UK for wireless LANs. I've tidied a few things up and added some information around 802.11ac channel planning within the constraints of UK 5GHz spectrum. You can download the whitepaper from here: PDF download Google docs Scribd

802.11ac & 5GHz: The Emperors New Clothes? - Part 2

In part one of this series looking at 802.11ac challenges, we looked at the issues that the use of the 5GHz band brings, particularly around DFS. In this second installment, we look at further challenges to designing and deploying 802.11ac networks. Extended Channel (UNII-2e) Device Support Although we may be located well away from any obvious sources of radar interference, there may be other obstacles to the 5GHz nirvana outlined in the 802.11ac marketing briefs. One ugly fact affecting WiFi networks on the 5GHz band is that not all devices that use the 5GHz band support all of the unlicensed channels available in our region.  For instance, I recently purchased a Nexus 7 tablet and was extremely disappointed to find that it only supports channels 36 to 64 (for the UK). The remaining available channels, 100 - 140 are not supported at all. I think that this variation in support for channels was originally rooted in a lack of support for devices in the UNII-2e channels (c

802.11ac & 5GHz: The Emperors New Clothes? - Part 1

The WiFi industry has been buzzing with excitement around the recently ratified 802.11ac standard. The promise of higher speeds, lower battery usage for mobile devices and the enforced move to the higher-capacity 5GHz band is enough to put a smile on the face of even the most curmudgeonly members of the WiFi fraternity. I've been giving some serious thought recently to what the best approaches might be in terms of designing and deploying 802.11ac networks. There are obviously challenges as we move through the transition from legacy standards to the shiny new 802.11ac standard:  new cabling requirements for higher uplink speeds to 802.11ac APs Increased power requirements for our 802.11ac APs accommodating the mix of new and legacy clients figuring out exactly how we plan our channels for the brave new world of 802.11ac The 802.11ac standard mandates that access points and clients using the new standard will only be supported on the 5GHz band, which is great news

Spectrum Allocation Plans for WiFi in the UK (2014)

Plans for new spectrum allocation for WiFi networks in North America are regular fodder for many blog and news articles that I  see scrolling past in the many RSS feeds that I monitor for WiFi related news. However, information about plans for additional spectrum allocation within the UK isn't quite so widely covered (in fact, I'd go so far as to say that it is largely ignored). But, here in the UK we still face the same issues as many other areas of the world: an explosion in mobile devices, massive deployment of WiFi networks in homes and businesses, and an ongoing increase in bandwidth demands. WiFi in the UK operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. We have 13 channels allocated for WiFi on 2.4GHz, but for practical purposes, only 3 may be used across a wireless LAN. On the 5GHz band, we have 19 channels allocated to WiFi, but are generally limited to using only 16 of those channels due to restrictions in supporting 3 channels that may interfere with weather rada

5GHz Unlicensed WiFi Channels in the UK - White Paper

(Note: this white paper has been superseded with this new updated version ) I put together a few articles a few months ago talking about how the unlicensed 5GHz band is used for WiFi here in the UK. I thought it might be a good idea to consolidate all of the information that I found in to one place, so that people researching the topic could find and digest it more easily. Therefore I put together a white paper about how 5GHz is used for WiFi here in the UK. You can download it from here. There will no doubt be errors, omissions and other facts that folks would like to suggest. So, please feel free to drop me a note and I'll update this document from time to time to improve the quality of information that it contains. Nigel. Download the document from the following sources: Scribd Google Docs

5GHz - 3 Missing Channels in Europe

Last year, I put up a  posting  which highlighted the fact that here in the UK (and I suspect all of Europe) we often have 3 channels missing from our allocation of unlicensed channels in the 5GHz band.  Looking at many manufacturer data sheets, channels 120, 124 and 128 are often shown as not being supported. This is despite the fact that they are allocated for use by local regulatory bodies (OFCOM here in the UK). I recently posted a question about this on a partner forum of a major WiFi vendor that I deal with and finally got a definitive answer on this. In this post, I'll share my findings. The reason that these particular channels (120 - 128) receive special treatment is that they occupy frequencies that are used by weather radar systems. WiFi systems have to be very careful not to interfere with those systems during their normal operation. Therefore, WiFi equipment has some additional checks and tests imposed on it to make sure that it does not inadvertently cause any int

The Missing Channels on 5GHz in the UK : 120, 124, 128

In my recent article : ' WiFi Channels On The 5GHz Band In The UK ', I noted that although the 5GHz channels 120, 124 and 128 are unlicensed channels available for use by WiFi equipment in the UK, it appears that a few major WiFi equipment manufacturers do not allow their use (in the UK or EU). I spoke with a major vendor representative today who advised me that the 3 channels are available for use, but that an update to the ETSI standard  301 893 v1.5.1  introduced some detection techniques for various military equipment used in the EU. However, many access points that were already manufactured (or using chip-sets that had already been manufactured) did not support the granularity of detection that is required for this equipment. So, it was decided to simply disable support for the affected channels. Apparently, later APs which use an updated chip-set will not be subject to the same limitations (once a few firmware updates are sorted out). I had a poke about in the stand

Which 5GHz Channels Does My Device Support?

I've been on a bit of a 5GHz quest recently, trying to get to grips with all of the nuances of supporting WiFi devices on this rather (in my mind) troubling band. Until fairly recently, it seems that the default band of choice for many WiFi devices has been 2.4GHz (802.11g/n). But as the whole 'bring your own device' area has exploded, networks require more high-density deployments, 802.11ac is on the horizon and consumer grade devices are starting to support 5GHz in increasing numbers, it looks like 5GHz is going to transition to being the band of choice over the next year or two. However, there seem to be a number of considerations that need to be taken in to account when delving in to the 5GHz 'wonderland'. There are far more non-overlapping channels available (19 in the UK) compared to 2.4GHz (generally 3 channels), which is going to potentially deliver much better performance gains (with the mitigation of co-channel interference, lower noise floor etc.). Ho