“Listen” to What Wi-Fi Networks Are Saying
March 6, 2014
When people responsible for WLAN and Wi-Fi performance in their enterprise or institution hear about the 7signal platform, they immediately see the benefits of our active tests, but it takes a little longer for them to understand the power of 7signal’s passive testing.
With active tests, the 7signal sensors “talk” to the network just like an end-user would to answer questions such as:
- Can I attach to the network?
- What is my packet loss?
- What is the throughput?
- How long is the delay?
- Is there jitter affecting voice quality?
Active tests are essential to verify that the network is capable of delivering the expected performance and can expose many issues in both the wireless and wired infrastructure.
However, passive tests have the important role in Wi-Fi performance testing of telling you the client’s success in using the network as well as the quality of their experience. With passive testing, 7signal sensors “listen” to the interactions taking place between clients and access points. For each client and AP, the sensor records important statistics, such as:
- Access point beaconing rates
- Data rates at which clients are connecting
- Number of retransmissions
- Overall traffic volume and air utilization
Don’t let the “passive” name fool you into thinking this data is less important – this information is invaluable. For example, if a client or set of clients in a certain area are using low data rates, this means there may be coverage issues, since lower data rate transmissions can withstand a lower signal to noise ratio. Alternatively, the data rates may be high but there are a lot of retransmissions. In either case, the available Wi-Fi capacity is performing in a non-optimal way which could impact the overall client quality of experience.
As important as active tests are in assessing Wi-Fi performance, don’t forget the essential role of the passive measurements to complete the picture. So, “listen” to your Wi-Fi network. The quality of your end-user’s experience depends on it.