Over the years, Wi-Fi was beginning to get strained with the limited amount of available spectrum. The explosive growth of Wi-Fi required more spectrum to accommodate the various use cases and application demands. The FCC allowed unlicensed use of the 6 GHz spectrum, providing 1200 MHz for expansion to further increase innovation and connectivity.
Aruba Networks has lead the cause for new spectrum and has now unveiled a 6 GHz capable access point (Wi-Fi 6E). For enterprises wanting to take advantage of 6 GHz, use wider channel widths, and suffer less interference, the AP 630 Series Campus AP would make a great transition. Aruba Networks introduces the AP 630 as the first in their family of Wi-Fi 6E APs, which means there are more to come in the future.
Based on the 802.11ax standard, the Aruba Networks 630 Series AP provides extensive coverage across three bands; 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz. It carries a low power indoor (LPI) device class, which makes this an indoor-only AP and will not require Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC).
As an internal antenna model, it will be a 2×2:2 radio. It’s unlike the Wi-Fi 5 radios we’ve seen, which have been 4×4:4 radios. Some might think of this as a limitation, but there are some valid reasons for doing this. The 630 Series AP will be tri-band and would require additional power if configured as 4×4:4 radios. A transition to 6 GHz is easier without upgrading the entire switching infrastructure for PoE support beyond 30 watts. Additionally, the majority of devices are 2×2:2. Having a more capable radio in our mobile devices will limit battery life.
While Wi-Fi 6E APs can use 160 MHz wide channels, there aren’t many devices that support it yet. As Aruba Networks has tested in a lab setting, using a laptop with an Intel Wi-Fi 6E adapter, it is possible to get gigabit speeds even as an aggregate across all three bands.
An added benefit with the Aruba Networks 630 Series APs is the high-availability features. The AP comes with failover for both data and power by configuring dual ports for link aggregation (LACP). A use case for dual connectivity for an AP is having it connected to two separate switches. If a network switch goes down, it maintains connectivity and uptime from another network switch. With LACP configured, the AP can support higher throughput on the Ethernet wired ports capable of 1 or 2.5 Gbps.
Aruba Networks 630 AP will be a great way to transition to 6 GHz as it supports the bands we currently use. We wish we could see support for software-defined radios by turning off 2.4 GHz and possibly using the radio for dual 5 GHz or dual 6 GHz functionality. At Packet6, we will be keeping our eye out for when the Aruba Networks 630 AP is available to the public to perform our testing.