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I'm looking at setting up a network with full WiFi coverage.

Right now I'm still comparing access points to mesh.

I see the options for AC access points offer wireless bandwidth in excess of 1Gbps. Like AC1200.

What I don't understand is how this is possible given the Ethernet backhaul is running at max 1000 Mbps.

I get that the total bandwidth is shared among all devices connected to that access point, and also between the 2.4 & 5 GHz bands.

Still, given that the AP can only send & receive data at the gigabit speed of the backhaul, the total bandwidth available to all clients must be limited to a gigabit?

Is there something I'm missing?

Because it seems pointless to get faster than 1000Mbps AC access points.

  • Unfortunately, questions about home networking and consumer-grade devices are explicitly off-topic here. You could try to ask this question on Super User. – Ron Maupin Jul 18 '17 at 13:35
  • Surely this applies equally whether the environment is the home or business? I am a software developer & wouldn't mind hearing about enterprise equipment that bypassed this situation. – Ashley Pillay Jul 18 '17 at 13:42
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    Enterprise WAPs and switches are now deploying something call Multigigabit Ethernet. This is something that is not available for home networking, which is specifically what you originally asked about. This is driven by the NBase-T Alliance. – Ron Maupin Jul 18 '17 at 13:57
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    Mistake #1: Assuming you need wireless to be "fast"; WiFi is often not fast, and if you need fast, start running wires. – Mike Pennington Jul 18 '17 at 15:05
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    Wireless bandwidth by spec is not what you are going to see in reality either. There is huge amounts of congestion on all of the bands. Unless you live in a radio desert or hardware validation chamber you wont find anything close to full bandwidth. You also wont see it the more stations you add unless they are all using the exact same spec. You toss one old device into the pool and everyone slows down so it can talk. – Rowan Hawkins Jul 18 '17 at 17:40
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The IEEE has proposed IEEE 802.3bz for 2.5 (Category-5e and Category-6 cable) and 5 Gbps (Category-6 cable) ethernet on UTP to complement the existing 10GBASE-T (Category-6a cabling) standard. There is the NBASE-T Alliance that has a lot of companies signed up to take advantage of the new standard. This was driven in large part by faster WAPs.

Cisco also has an option to allow two 1000BASE-T network connections between some WAPs and switches to be combined in a single channel. Cisco now some switch modules and WAPs that work with the NBASE-T standard.

Other companies are also releasing products that work with the NBASE-T standard.

As it stands today, this is going to be expensive, enterprise-grade equipment, and not for home networking, as your original question asks.

  • Actually, devices with just 2.5 and 5 Gbit/s (and a lower price tag) are still to surface. Usually, all NBASE-T ports support 10 Gbit/s and the 2.5 and 5 Gbit/s PHYs are just to enable Cat5 cabling. – Zac67 Jul 18 '17 at 18:43
  • Cisco has some products that support multigigabit (NBASE-T). For example, the 3850-12X48U and 3850-12X48U switches. – Ron Maupin Jul 18 '17 at 18:51
  • Thanks for pointing that out - but that's what I was aiming at: there's little point runnng the 10G ports at only 2.5G or 5G unless your cabling isn't up to real 10G. – Zac67 Jul 18 '17 at 19:10
  • If the WAPs don't support 10GBASE-T, then it could make a big difference. I haven't seen any WAPs claiming 10GBASE-T, although I haven't looked specifically for that feature. – Ron Maupin Jul 18 '17 at 19:18
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    @CellPointNetworks, it popped up because Peter put in a new answer. You really need to look at the dates on things when answering or commenting because stuff is constantly changing. That is why we encourage answering and commenting on old questions and answers to keep things up to date, but we want to stay away from specific products or resources because things do change so fast (plus it can start flame wars because "mine is better than yours"). – Ron Maupin Sep 25 '18 at 21:12
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I think there is a distinction to be made here between maximum burst rate and sustained throughput. In general the headline speeds of networking standards are the maximum burst rate.

Gigabit Ethernet provides dedicated full duplex channels. So the sustained data rate is pretty much the same as the maximum burst rate.

The wifi picture is much messier. Transmission time is shared between upstream and downstream and potentially with other networks working on the same channel and not all clients will be able to support the maximum data rate, either because of hardware limitations on the clients or because the signal integrity is not good enough.

The result is even if the wifi has a slightly higher maximum burst rate than the Ethernet it is the wifi side that is likely to get congested first.

  • @Ashley Pillay - Following on this constructive answer by Peter Green, you must also consider that all communication over WIFI at this point in time is only half-duplex. Depending on the number of clients you will cover per WAP, the choices becomes narrower as manufacturers have devices from low coverage/small business to High Density devices. The costs will differ between manufacturers and everyone will have an opinion. Personally, haven't seen the gain for multigigabit LAN connectivity yet as we have in our enterprise a range of models deployed depending on the contention vs areas covered. – user4565 Sep 25 '18 at 19:09
  • First of all, great answer, it's important to note the differences between wireless data throughput vs wired. But what would you say in the case wireless APs with wireless rates as high as ~7 Gbps? – CellPointNetworks Sep 25 '18 at 19:42
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If you have a switch and AP capable of bonding ethernet links you can make two or more of the gigabit switch ports on an AP acts a single multigigabit ethernet link.

In this way you could take advantage of greater than gigabit wireless links.

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