Gigabit Wireless Surveillance Review (802.11ac)

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 10, 2012

This month, an upcoming wireless standard called 802.11ac, more colloquially known as 'Gigaibit Wifi' is starting to gain significant attention. At the CES show, a number of large mainstream electronic vendors including Broadcom, Buffalo, DLink and Trendnet are already starting to announce products. There's definitely big momemtum behind this but what does this mean for video surveillance? In this note, we examine the potential impact and applications.

Overview

802.11ac is the fifth generation of the 802.11 wireless Ethernet standard. Three key improvements to 802.11a/b/g/n are claimed:

  • Increased throughput: First and foremost, 802.11ac specifies maximum speeds of over 1 Gbps. Current 802.11n APs are capable of 150 Mbps, making this a 6-7x increase in throughput. This is accomplished through an increase in channel width from 40 MHz in 802.11n to 80 MHz, or optionally 160 MHz in 802.11ac. The number of spatial streams is also increased from four to eight, allowing better MIMO performance.
  • Frequency and modulation change: 802.11ac will operate in the 5 GHz band only, unlike 802.11, which operated in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrum. 802.11ac also uses 256-QAM modulation versus 11n's 64-QAM method, allowing more data to be encoded on a carrier.
  • Beam steering: Simply put, beam steering allows the wireless AP to better "aim" signal towards clients. This allows speed or range to be increased, but not both. Maintaining the same distance from the AP, better and more consistent speeds can be maintained, as the stronger signal handles interference better.

For a lower level examination of 802.11ac , we recommend AnandTech's solid primer on 802.11ac technology.

Potential for Surveillance

While all of the above improvements will likely make 802.11ac more useful for the consumer and business markests as a whole, they may be of limited use for surveillance purposes and may even cause problems:

  • Line of Sight Restrictions: 802.11ac's use of the 5 GHz spectrum results in poorer penetration of obstructions than existing technologies, limiting it strictly to applications where line of sight is clear. 
  • Distance Limitations: Typically the higher the bandwidth supported, the more limited the distance achievable as higher signal to noise ratios are needed.
  • Additional Bandwidth Unnecessary: The increased throughput of this standard is overkill for a single camera or a handful of cameras, even multi-megapixel models. We expect that low-cost non-802.11 solutions such as Ubiquiti and Mikrotik will still be most popular in these applications.
  • Pollute the 5Ghz range: Currently, the 5Ghz range is much less congested than the 2.4Ghz range. As more people use 802.11ac, this will increase probability of interference with surveillance systems that choose the 5Ghz range to avoid the congested 2.4Ghz.

The main application which comes to mind when thinking of high-throughput line of sight wireless is backhaul. 802.11ac's throughput is likely high enough to carry dozens of cameras and beyond. However, 802.11 wireless is not typically used for backhaul, due to concerns of security and reliability.  Proprietary radios are usually chosen for this application for their generally better handling of interference, which results in better distance and availability.

802.11ac will have the most impact on in-building wireless. However, in-building wireless has seen the least movement from surveillance. Wireless cameras based on 802.11b/g, generally, have been available for years, but very few commercial systems use wireless connectivity. Even if wireless connectivity is available and reliable, cameras must still be powered, requiring 120VAC power to be located near wherever a wireless camera is to be installed. Typically, power over Ethernet and/or low-voltage 12VDC/24VAC power are much more cost effective, limiting even 802.11ac's use in this application.

This standard may be of use for users implementing devices such as tablets and smartphones, on which video may be viewed by a mobile guard force, for instance. 802.11ac will provide better coverage and speed for these devices, potentially allowing for increased resolution and framerate to be delivered to the client device.

Pre-Standard Product

While a number of consumer-focused network hardware providers are announcing product, to date, no surveillance-focused wireless manufacturers have announced any 802.11ac gear. We have found none that are willing to even discuss plans for its implementation, as the standard is not yet adopted. This will likely occur in the next 12-18 months. While typically, the draft of the standard does not vary grealy from the final product, some changes may occur. Early adopter manufacturers claim that any changes may be handled via software updates, as the chips will not change, but users should be aware of this potential risk.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
LifeSafety Power NetLink Vulnerabilities And Problematic Response on May 20, 2019
'Power supplies' are not devices that many think about when considering vulnerabilities but as more and more devices go 'online', the risks for...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Access Control Request to Exit (RTE) Tutorial on May 13, 2019
For access controlled doors, especially those with maglocks, 'Request to Exit', or 'RTE' devices are required to override electrified locks to...
Mining Company Security Manager Interview on May 10, 2019
First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML) is a global enterprise with offices on 4 continents and operations in 7 countries with exploratory operations...
Dahua ePoE Long Distance UTP / Coax Tested on May 03, 2019
Dahua's Enhanced PoE (ePoE) line is claiming extended video and power transmission over 600m without repeaters, with devices interchangeable via...
Registration Closed - Spring 2019 IP Networking Course on May 02, 2019
Register now for the Spring 2019 IP Networking course here - Closed. Last chance now.   This is the only networking course designed specifically...
Axis Supports HD Analog on Apr 15, 2019
In 2017, Axis declared 'Everything is IP': Now, in 2019, Axis has released support for HD analog, with their new encoders.  Why the change?...
Pole Mount Camera Installation Guide on Apr 11, 2019
Poles are a popular but challenging choice for deploying surveillance cameras outdoors. Poles are indispensable for putting cameras at the right...
UK Installer CCTV Aware - Flat Pricing, No Salespeople on Apr 10, 2019
This is a different kind of company. They do flat pricing, they do not have any salespeople and 50% of their sales are sold and booked...

Most Recent Industry Reports

NJ Law Requires Apprenticeship For Public Works Integrators on May 24, 2019
Few integrators do a formal apprenticeship program. However, now a NJ law is requiring any integrator on public works projects (such as state...
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact