This article provides the information on "Troubleshooting performance issues with 802.11ac wireless local area network (WLAN) devices".
Table of Contents
- 802.11ac Overview
- 802.11ac specific troubleshooting
- Dell 802.11ac Drivers
1. 802.11ac Overview
802.11ac is the first Wi-Fi standard to provide wireless network speeds approaching gigabit performance. This new standard expands on the concepts initially fielded with 802.11n with higher connection speeds and faster data transfer rates rivaling hard wired Gigabit Ethernet speeds.
2. 802.11ac specific troubleshooting
Due to 801.11ac being a new standard (2011 initial release), it is expected that there will be issues fielding these products in existing network structures. While 802.11ac is backwards compatible with 802.11 a,b,g,n technology there may be performance trade offs encountered if a coherent deployment plan is not used when adding this technology to your network.
What should I do to ensure best performance on my network?
The suggestions below will help to ensure that you get the maximum performance from your 802.11ac devices.
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- Make sure that you have the latest driver for your 802.11ac network card. Manufacturers try to completely debug their products before they enter mainstream use, but pre-production testing cannot reveal every compatibility issue or every possible configuration. Due to this, updates and improvements to drivers and to a lesser extent firmware are the normal status the first year or two that a new standard is fielded. (802.11n wasn't even completely standardized when it first shipped, hence Draft N naming of the 1st 802.11n products. You can get drivers for your Dell wireless cards on the Dell support website.
- Update the router/access points of your network. Having the newest wireless devices in your system is ineffective if your network is unable to take advantage of the new technology. Routers/APs with less than 2 years in the field may be upgradable with firmware updates to support some/all 802.11ac features. Older hardware will need to be updated with newer devices. This may require a different hardware disposition as the new technology may require different spacing to take advantage of new features that were not factors on the older hardware. Consult your hardware manufacturer for recommended placement for hardware and firmware updates that improve performance.
- Check for possible incompatibilities with existing network infrastructure. Some older technologies are compatible, but require updates. Knowing the model and firmware versions of your networking devices is key in researching this type of issue. Here is a Cisco router example.
- Dual band vs Single band in high traffic wireless environments. This often develops as an issue in school/college/business environments where there is a high density of wireless devices. Single band wireless cards work well in low density environments of 20 systems or less but have been shown to be problematic in high density applications. Single band wireless cards, lacking the flexibility of switching to the bands with the most available bandwidth. This can cause systems to drop off the network or have greatly degraded performance if they stay connected.
- 802.11ac supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz transmission bands, but use wider RF ranges (80MHz vs 40MHz in 802.11n) and multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) streams (up to 8). If a 802.11ac device is configured in ac only mode, access point and router networks that are not configured for ac mode may not be seen by the system.
3. Dell 802.11ac Drivers
You can download drivers for you system 802.11ac wireless device from the hyperlink below:
Dell Drivers & Downloads Hyperlink
If you are on the system the you want to download new drivers, you can click the Detect Product button and let the site identy your system. You can also enter the service tag nuumber or express service code for the system in the 2nd section. Finally, you can click the view products down arrow and click through the menu to find drivers for your system.
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