I <3 Thin Access Points!

They are so sleek.  Their simple, single radio design with an omni-directional antenna seems so practical.   Tunneling all the data from each and every AP back to a centralized WLAN controller seems so… secure.  

 

Not!  April Fool’s!  🙂

I couldn’t let the day slip away without some foolishness, which I decided to publish on my blog.  

Here’s the truth about thin APs: 

  • Single or dual radio designs severely limit the capacity of your WLAN. In a multi-radio array, each radio operates on its own channel, which offers its own capacity.  Remember, wireless is a half-duplex, shared medium.  
  • Omni-directional antennas limit the coverage of a particular AP.  The FCC limits output power.  It is more effective to use directional antennas that take the same amount of output power and focus it in a given direction, thereby increasing the range.  An array of radios, each tied to its own directional antennas can be arranged to provide 360 degree coverage.  This is exactly how modern cell phone towers operate.  
  • Centralized architectures create a potential bottleneck in the WLAN, especially with the advent of 802.11n and its increased capacity.  Distributed architectures allow for more efficient process of the data.  Management traffic is still split out and handled centrally.  The WLAN industry is replicating the same lessons learned from the wired network world. At first, all the intelligence in a wired network was at the core router. Then, wired networking matured and the intelligence was pushed out to edge switches for better performance. 

At any rate, Happy April Fool’s Day!

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