Ubiquiti Access Point Comparison

Cover image for Preseem's Ubiquiti Access Point Comparison blog

by | June 5, 2020 | Networking

Ubiquiti Access Point Comparison

One of the leading providers of networking equipment to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) is Ubiquiti. In this blog post, we’ll conduct a comparison of Ubiquiti’s Rocket series of access points (APs). This comparison will evaluate the performance of various Ubiquiti Rocket AP models by analyzing throughput, latency, and oversubscription rates. Specifically, we’ll analyze Ubiquiti’s Rocket 2AC Prism, Rocket 2AC Prism Gen2, Rocket 5AC Prism, and Rocket Prism 5AC Gen2 AP models.

To facilitate our Ubiquiti access point comparison, we’ve collected a lot of data from our customer base. This has provided us with metrics spanning tens of thousands of subscribers and thousands of APs. Since we derive our data exclusively from Preseem customers, our numbers may differ from those found in manufacturer spec sheets. Consequently, the results of this comparison do not necessarily represent the full capacity of any piece of equipment being evaluated.

Comparing Throughput

Throughput refers to the amount of network capacity (in bits/sec) received or sent by each active subscriber during a given time period. We begin our comparison of Ubiquiti’s different Rocket AP models by looking at levels of throughput.

Image showing a car trip from San Francisco to Pittsburgh as a metaphor for latency vs. throughput

Image from Carnegie Mellon University

The following figures compare the 90th percentile of download and upload throughput achieved by subscribers during the busiest (peak) hours.

Graph showing download rates of various Ubiquiti access point models
Graph showing upload rates of various Ubiquiti access point models

The above figures demonstrate that the Rocket 2AC Prism and the Rocket 2AC Prism Gen2 achieve a similar throughput. Likewise, the throughput achieved by the Rocket 5AC Prism and the Rocket 5AC Prism Gen2 is comparable as well. Since the 2AC and 5AC Rocket models maintain different frequencies—2.4GHz and 5GHz, respectively—the difference in throughput between the two models is expected.

Fun fact about Ubiquiti access points

Comparing Latency

Network latency is an expression of how much time it takes for a packet of data to get from one point to another. Preseem measures latency by tracking the time it takes individual TCP segments to obtain a detailed view of the latency in a given network. This approach results in thousands of latency samples per second per subscriber.

This method of measurement is fundamentally different than an ICMP ping-based latency measurement. That’s because it measures true end-to-end latency, including the latency in subscribers’ homes. No matter the method of measurement used, however, latency can fluctuate based on factors such as weather and the distance between access points and the customer’s equipment.

Graph showing latency in various Ubiquiti access point models

The figures for latency show similar results between the Rocket 5AC Prism and the Rocket 5AC Prism Gen2. The latency results between the Rocket 2AC Prism and the Rocket 2AC Prism Gen2 are also comparable. These results indicate that all the Rocket Prism models analyzed maintain a low enough level of latency to provide an adequate experience for internet users.

Comparing Overselling Using the Oversubscription Ratio

Overselling describes the practice of selling a service in excess of the actual supply. Overselling is an intentional business strategy where sellers expect that buyers won’t consume all the resources they purchased. As a result, firms in the travel and hospitality industries commonly engage in overselling. In this regard, ISPs are no different. That’s because it’s impossible for ISPs to affordably provision enough bandwidth to allow every subscriber to use their entire plan rate at the same time. As a result, without overselling, the business model of ISPs could not work.

In order to determine the amount of a service being oversold, we can calculate its oversubscription ratio.

How do you calculate an oversubscription ratio?

We begin our calculation of an AP’s oversubscription ratio by using the following formula:

Formula for access point oversubscription ratio

Next, we apply the above formula in practice by using an example. For instance, if a WISP sold twenty 10Mb/s plans on an access point that typically achieves a rate of 50Mb/s, what is its oversubscription ratio?

Calculation of AP oversubscription ratio for specific access point

In this case, we can see that the oversubscription ratio is 4. Calculating the oversubscription ratio for Ubiquiti’s Rocket 2AC Prism, Rocket 2AC Prism Gen2, Rocket 5AC Prism, and Rocket Prism 5AC Gen2 yields the following results:

Graph showing Rocket 2AC oversubscription
Graph showing Rocket 2AC Prism Gen2 oversubscription
Graph showing Rocket 5AC Prism oversubscription
Graph showing the Rocket 5AC Prism Gen2 oversubscription ratio

From the figures above, we can see that the majority of Rocket Prism access points are oversold by three times or less. As a result, we can see that the Rocket 2AC Prism and the Rocket 2AC Prism Gen2 are similar to each other in terms of throughput, latency, and oversubscription ratio.

Similarly, Ubiquiti’s Rocket 5AC Prism and Rocket 5AC Prism Gen2 are alike when looking at throughput, latency, and oversubscription ratio. Nevertheless, when comparing Ubiquiti’s 2AC and 5AC model, there is a stark difference between the 5GHz and 2.4GHz devices. Indeed, our Ubiquiti Rocket Access Point Comparison shows that the 5AC models deliver more throughput with less latency compared to the 2AC models.

We also recently did a comparison of Cambium APs. Click here to read it!

Disclaimer: Results are based on a real-world analysis conducted by Preseem using thousands of APs and subscribers. Individual results may vary. Also, all images belong to their respective copyright holders.

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