Smart Building

Adding More Wireless Access Points: What It Means for Networks

Ron Tellas

The average user will bring up to three devices with him – a smartphone, tablet and laptop, for example – that will all connect to your network the minute he walks through your doors. (The average U.S. consumer now has 3.64 devices.) These devices are continuously downloading updates, receiving emails and synching to cloud-based storage. As a result, according to Dell’Oro, the number of wireless LAN active users is currently outpacing wired LAN users.

This fact alone proves the point that bandwidth capacity requirements are increasing – and we haven’t even touched on the devices that are connecting to enterprise networks as a result of Internet of Things (IoT). VoIP phones, IP surveillance cameras, lighting systems and building controls are all connecting to networks to transfer data, receive data and adjust performance in real time.


More wireless network users and more wireless devices also call for more wireless access points (WAPs) – and these devices connect to your enterprise network, too. Without an adequate number of WAPs, data rates and throughput will decrease as users move farther away from WAPs (and more users connect).


So what will an increase in the number of WAPs in your enterprise mean for your network?


PoE Will Become a Necessity (It Already Is)

Power over Ethernet (PoE) – carrying power and data to a device through one cable – is experiencing rising adoption rates, and WAPs are one reason why. BSRIA predicts that more than 80% of WAPs will rely on PoE by 2020. The global PoE solutions market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.56% between 2016 and 2022, reaching $1 billion by 2022. 


PoE is a cost-effective way to speed up installation and reduce the amount of cable needed to power and control networked devices, eliminating the need for multiple cable runs. PoE cable is used to efficiently connect WAPs straight to the network and provide them with adequate power wattage at the same time. 


Simpler Connections

PoE utilizes twisted-pair copper cable, optimally a Category 6A cable, to span from equipment to end devices. From there, the cable is connectorized using a modular RJ45 connectivity.


Enterprise network infrastructure is becoming a more popular deployment strategy where plugs can be placed on the end of horizontal cabling and connect directly to a static end device. When PoE cable directly connects to a WAP without any other connection points in between, you achieve more efficient power delivery and minimal insertion loss. We like to call this method “direct connect.” Learn more about it here.


Higher-Performance Cabling

When thinking about wireless capability, it’s easy to think solely about wireless aspects of your enterprise. But rarely is a wireless network actually “wireless” – it relies on a robust, high-performance cabling system behind the scenes.


In order for IoT and BYOD (bring your own device) to be beneficial in your enterprise, connectivity needs to be maintained among ever-increasing numbers of devices. The cabling system that supports user and device connectivity needs to be carefully considered. Can your wired network (cabling) support increased wireless bandwidth?


As WAP specifications continue to change (802.11ac Wave 2 is the most current wireless standard, but there are new wireless specifications on the horizon), power consumption from these devices increases as data rates and number of Ethernet uplinks increase. Because more power needs to be transmitted through the PoE cable, the amount of heating in the cable will rise – which can cause performance issues under certain conditions due to increased insertion loss.


Category 6A cabling can handle full multi-gigabit implementation and higher cable uplink speeds. It is also designed to manage the transmission of higher power wattage; the best-in-class Category 6A cables have enough insertion loss margin to handle the extra heat generated from tightly packed cables and still maintain 100m channel lengths. In addition, Category 6A cabling supports data rates up to (and including) 10GBASE-T so it can support current and future applications. In fact, 7 Gbps WAPs are expected by 2017 – and those devices will require 10GBASE-T uplink speeds.


When you’re planning to add more WAPs to expand reach and ensure adequate bandwidth capacity, your cabling systems needs to be able to handle power and data, resist external noise to maintain information capacity, maintain low insertion loss and withstand increased heat levels from bundling. Learn more about Belden’s Category 6A cabling, and find out how we can help ensure that your enterprise LAN is ready to handle more WAPs.