Yes, it’s finally here! We are excited to announce our blazing fast 802.11ac access point, the Cisco Meraki MR34. Here is a first glance at the hardware and a snapshot of features we have already developed. But first, a quick look at what makes the MR34 so much faster than its 802.11n relatives.

802.11ac: lightning fast

The MR34 takes advantage of the latest and greatest WiFi standard, 802.11ac. We have jumped from 802.11n speeds of 450 Mbps to almost 3 times faster with 802.11ac, topping out at 1.3Gbps. Keep in mind, 802.11ac only applies to 5 GHz, so the MR34 uses a combination of 802.11ac and 802.11n on 5 GHz bands and 802.11n on 2.4 GHz bands for a combined data rate of 1.75 Gbps. So, what makes 802.11ac so fast? There are a couple major things contributing to this speed boost.

The first is wider channels. Instead of the 40 MHz channels used by 11n, 802.11ac takes advantage of 80 MHz channels. The 5 GHz frequency band didn’t get any bigger, 11ac is just using a bigger chunk of the available bandwidth in order to boost throughput. 802.11ac even takes into account existing 802.11a and n clients by allowing them to transmit on 20 or 40 MHz segments of the same 80 MHz blocks used for 802.11ac traffic, enabling seamless backward compatibility.

Another element contributing to the performance improvement is an enhanced modulation technique, called 256 QAM. Think of modulation as the amount of data pushed through a pipe at a given time. 256 QAM allows for a greater density of information to be transmitted than was possible with 802.11n (64 QAM). We can now transmit more information in the same amount of time and through the same pipe, providing more efficient transmission.

The MR34: not just a pretty face

Beyond the 802.11ac speed enhancements, there is another major differentiator for the MR34. In addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz client serving radios, the MR34 packs a 3rd radio to make it the most secure AP on the market. The dual band 3rd radio operates in full-time scanning mode, powering Auto RF which optimizes the RF environment as well as securing the air waves with the built in Cisco Meraki Air Marshal technology. We can even use the 3rd radio to provide real-time granular view of the 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrum giving administrators a comprehensive understanding of the RF environment.

 Real-time RF spectrum tools now built into the Cisco Meraki dashboard

As with the entire MR family, the MR34 comes with network visibility tools, as well as layer 7 firewall and traffic shaping functionality built right into the AP. The MR34 enforces traffic shaping policies at line rate, even at faster 11ac speeds for complete network control. Stay tuned for more blog posts that go into the details of these enhanced features and more.

Integrating with existing wireless networks

Cisco Meraki makes it easy for customers to take advantage of this new technology. All Meraki products use the centralized cloud dashboard for configuration, management, and monitoring, and the MR34 is no different. The MR34 includes the fully integrated, out-of-the-box feature set which is common to all the MR access points, with secure guest access, BYOD support, traffic shaping, Presence location analytics, and more. The MR34 integrates seamlessly into your existing wireless network and is completely backward compatible with 802.11 a/b/g/n.

We have even gone further to think about your switch infrastructure. For wireless networks that use PoE switches to power APs, the MR34 can operate in low power mode at standard PoE (802.3af) or crank it up to PoE+ (802.3at) to take advantage of the enhanced 3rd radio functionality.

Get the full scoop

The MR34 will be hitting the streets late this summer to early fall at the list price of $1,399, but you can get a first look into the hardware and feature set at the MR34 webinar next Tuesday. Also, check out our 11ac page for more info about the MR34 and how it fits into your wireless network.