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

Assa Acquires LifeSafety Power on Sep 04, 2019
Assa Abloy is acquiring LifeSafety Power, adding to their growing collection of access control brands like Mercury, August, Pioneer Doors, and...
Register Now - October 2019 IP Networking Course on Aug 28, 2019
Register now for the Fall 2019 IP Networking Course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
Mobile Access Control Guide on Aug 28, 2019
One of the biggest trends in access for the last few years has been the marriage of mobile phones and access cards. But how does this...
JCI Sues Wyze on Aug 21, 2019
The mega manufacturer / integrator JCI has sued the fast-growing $20 camera Seattle startup Wyze. Inside this note: Share the court...
ZK Teco Atlas Access Control Tested on Aug 20, 2019
Who needs access specialists? China-based ZKTeco claims its newest access panel 'makes it very easy for anyone to learn and install access control...
ProdataKey (PDK) Access Company Profile on Aug 09, 2019
Utah based ProdataKey touts low cost cloud access, wireless controllers, and no dealer required national distribution availability. But how does...
Avigilon Blue VSaaS Tested on Aug 05, 2019
Avigilon says Blue is a "powerful integrator cloud service platform", easy to set up and configure, quickly scale business, by leveraging cloud...
Mobile Access Control Shootout - Farpointe, HID, Openpath, Nortek, Proxy on Jul 29, 2019
One of the biggest rising trends in access control is using phones as credentials but which offering is best? IPVM has tested five of the...
Siklu $400 Compact 60GHz Radio on Jul 24, 2019
Siklu first entered the video surveillance market with a $6,000 per link solution, is now aiming down market with their newest 60GHz wireless...
HD Analog vs IP Guide on Jul 16, 2019
For years, HD resolution and single cable signal/power were IP camera advantages, with analog cameras limited to much lower resolution and...

Most Recent Industry Reports

How Cobalt Robotics May Disrupt Security on Sep 13, 2019
While security robots have largely become a joke over the last few years, one organization, Cobalt Robotics, has raised $50+ million from top US...
Panasonic 4K Camera Tested (WV-S2570L) on Sep 13, 2019
Panasonic has released their latest generation 4K dome, the WV-S2570L, claiming "Extreme image quality allows evidence to be captured even under...
ASIS GSX 2019 Show Report Final on Sep 12, 2019
IPVM went to Chicago for ASIS GSX 2019, with many exhibitors disappointed about traffic and the exhibitor schedule changing next year. Inside we...
Installation Course - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 12, 2019
Last Chance - Register Now - September 2019 Video Surveillance Install Course. Thursday, September 12th is your last chance to register for the...
Commend ID5 Intercom Tested on Sep 12, 2019
Commend touts the new ID5 intercom as 'timelessly elegant' and the slim body, glass front touchscreen indeed looks better than common, but ugly,...
US State Department: "Chinese Tech Giants" "Tools of the Chinese Communist Party" on Sep 12, 2019
The US State Department has called out "Chinese tech giants" for being "tools of the Chinese Communist Party" in a blunt new speech that makes...
Uniview OEM Directory on Sep 11, 2019
This directory lists 20+ companies that OEM products from Uniview, with a graphic and links to company websites below. It does not cover all...
Yi Home Camera 3 AI Analytics Tested on Sep 10, 2019
Yi Technology is claiming "new AI features" in its $50 Home Camera 3 "eliminates 'false positives' caused by flying insects, small pets, or light...
Hanwha Announces 32MP Camera + AI Line on Sep 10, 2019
In the first rise in maximum megapixel resolution in 5 years, Hanwha has announced a 32MP / 8K camera directly competing with Avigilon's H4 30MP /...
Fingerprints for Access Control Guide on Sep 09, 2019
Users can lose badges, but they never misplace a finger, right? The most common biometric used in access are fingerprints, and it has become one...

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