Cisco Canada Blog

How the Aironet 3600 Series Access Point improves your mobility experience

March 14, 2012

I am not sure we have given the Cisco Aironet 3600 Series Access Point the recognition it deserves.  Our introduction of the Aironet 3600 in January was not only one of the most exciting product launches from the Cisco Wireless Networking Business Unit – but it was also an industry first.  The Cisco AP3600 is the industry’s only 4X4 MIMO three-spatial stream access point, and delivers mission critical reliability with up to three times more coverage versus the competition and 30 per cent faster performance for tablets, smartphones and high performance laptops.

Current enterprise solutions lack the scalability to meet the demands on wireless networks caused by the influx of mobile devices and mobile applications. Everyone has heard about BYOD or ‘Bring Your Own Disaster’!  One of the biggest issues facing organizations today is actually due to the volume of calls to the help desk because of poor wireless performance.  The Aironet 3600, or AP3600, is a game-changer because it allows for new clients to come onto the network and, more importantly, is capable of handling the higher throughput requirements of video and voice. Simply put, the new AP3600 sustains reliable connections at higher speeds, at further distances from the access point, than our competition.  This results in up to three times more availability of the theoretical-maximum speed of 450 Mbps for 802.11n devices, optimizing the performance of more mobile devices and reducing calls to the help desk.

How does it do it?  The AP3600 is the first enterprise-class four transceiver 802.11n multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) design, comprised of four transmit and four receive antennas (4×4). Let’s put this into perspective. Before the AP3600, the industry standard was a 3×3 MIMO. The upgrade to 4×4 can be compared to having a second set of ears, dramatically improving how much you can hear. Although 3 MIMO receivers is theoretically sufficient to handle three spatial streams (the ‘streams’ data flows through), the problem is that it provides no redundancy against channel fading or inevitable hardware impairments, and its operation is disappointingly short range or erratic in practice.  The benefits of adding the fourth receiver to support three spatial data streams lies in the redundancy and diversity gain you achieve.

Of these two, much more important is diversity gain. Due to channel fading, one antenna may experience a deep fade, resulting in a very low signal level received on that specific antenna. Wireless antennas can be unforgiving. With three spatial data streams, you need a minimum of three good signals so that the three data streams can be resolved – and if just one of them experiences deep fading, the MIMO detection will fail. By comparison, with 4×4 MIMO, if one antenna sees a deep fade, there are still three good signals from which three data streams can be resolved. In actual implementations, the signals from all four antennas are carefully weighted according to quality, ensuring that the signals with better quality are better utilized. In fact, 4×4 MIMO has markedly better performance in fading channels due to its balanced hybrid of spatial multiplexing for speed and diversity gain for robustness.

Now what about the other features? The Cisco Aironet 3600 Series introduces Cisco ClientLink 2.0, optimizing performance for existing 802.11a/g and 802.11n wireless tablets, smartphones and other one-spatial stream and two-spatial stream devices.  It will also provide superior performance for cutting edge laptops and other three-spatial stream devices as they come on to the network. This provides compatibility for today and into the future – something we all need to keep in mind as devices continue to evolve.

Speaking of future proofing your network, the new AP3600 also comes with a new modular radio design. There is a radio module slot in the back of the 3600 that allows you to simply add a module to upgrade and add new functions in the future. This is just another way we strive to create best of breed technologies that impact the way our customers live, work and play.

One last thing. The Aironet 3600 also features Clean Air Technology, which allows you to simplify wireless operations and optimize performance and range. The automatic interference mitigation enables better reliability and performance in tough environments, remote troubleshooting provides fast problem resolution and less downtime and the robust security features non-Wi-Fi detection for off-channel rogues and policy enforcement with customizable alerts to prohibit devices that interfere with the network.

In all, the Aironet 3600 is an incredible technology. To share your thoughts on this topic, leave a comment below.

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  1. We are currently on the verge to change out our outdated wireless network.
    We want to be able to adopt to the 802.11ac when it comes next year.
    But how will the 3600 with 4×4 support the new standard which have the abillity to use 8×8 MIMO?

    As far as i know there will be an adapter (mentioned above) that you can change when the standard have been accepted. But as there is “only” 4 antennas on the current series, should we wait for a release of an 8 antenna design?

    • traceymt

      Thanks for the question Tore.

      Similar to 802.11n, the 802.11ac supports MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output). To accomplish this, 802.11n and now 802.11ac radios require multiple transmitters and receivers. These standards are designed for a maximum of 4 and 8 receivers and transmitters respectively.

      But manufacturers can build products with fewer transmitters and receivers. In 802.11n, there are a multitude of 2×3 and 3×3 access points. Only Cisco offers a 4×4 version. On the client side, most smaller devices such as smartphones only have 1×1 radios. The same holds true for 802.11ac. We believe it will take many years before we get to 8×8 .11ac products, and that’s if we ever do as new standards emerge very quickly.

  2. traceymt

    Read what Miercom has to say about testing the Cisco AP3600i/e with ClientLink 2.0 and how it provides superior throughput and extended coverage for Bring Your Own Device(BYOD)enterprise deployments.

  3. We currently use the Aironet 3500 series with Clean Air Technology. Right now our offerings are on a few limited floors however we’ve ordered enough to cover our whole head office next month (before hearing about the 3600). Either way we’ve got these devices in a few of our offices and the amount of good things we hear from our end users is endless. They love how they can go to another office and be automatically connected.

    If an enterprise wireless strategy isn’t on your horizon it should be as the whole BYOD movement is only getting bigger.