There is one line in this article (http://www.flukenetworks.com/content/80211ac-faqs) that I am not clear about:

"If you have an 802.11n network, consider that a 1:1 swap of AP's to 802.11ac can increase your user capacity."

Won't the capacity remain the same, unless all clients are 802.11ac (unlikely since the original network was 802.11n)?

1 Answer 1


There are a number of factors that can contribute to this increase in capacity. Keep in mind that to increase capacity what you really need to do is increase efficiency so that you can transmit more bits in the same amount of time.

Also, the statement says it "can increase your user capacity" not that it definitely will. However in most cases it will do so.

  1. As you noted, yes most clients will likely still be 802.11n, but this is changing quickly. In the BYOD environment I am currently in, we are running about 15-20% 802.11ac clients in areas that have 802.11ac deployed. Each 802.11ac client can achieve higher data rates making the use of spectrum more efficient on average.
  2. An 802.11n access point can be single band. 802.11ac are always dual band, so depending on the 802.11n access points currently deployed this can provide a significant capacity increase.
  3. 802.11ac has a number of improvements, such as beam forming, that are not client dependent. This will allow the clients to receive at higher signal strengths which often translates to higher data rates. This again increases efficiency.
  • Are there RF implications for moving from N to AC? As in do you get some sort of interference from the larger channels?
    – cpt_fink
    Feb 3, 2015 at 5:40
  • Having just worked with both Aruba and Cisco on 802.11ac deployments in the past four months, I can say they both recommended continuing to run 20MHz in 2.4GHz and 40MHz in 5GHz when capacity is a concern. So the wider channels should not come into play. Other features, such as beam forming have the potential to reduce interference (if by nothing else allowing access points an opportunity to run at a lower power while providing the same service).
    – YLearn
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.