Optimizing WLAN Networks for Capacity

In the realm of Wi-Fi optimization, capacity represents the number of client devices that can connect to wireless access points. However, keeping the client experience in mind, a network administrator should really track how many clients can connect effectively.

  • Certain applications on the network are more bandwidth intensive than others. For example, Voice over WLAN systems. These bandwidth hogs will cause contention with everybody else because they are all sharing the same air. A possible Wi-Fi optimization is to add additional access points to the high-bandwidth areas only.
  • Similar to the above, capacity can also be affected by a desired throughput that the business has deemed necessary in order for certain workers and applications to do their jobs. Therefore, to achieve target throughputs in certain areas, you may need to limit the number of users that connect to certain access points. Keep in mind that Internet connection speeds may also be a bottleneck.
  • The sheer quantity of devices in some areas will affect capacity as well. As you have surely seen by now, Wi-Fi airtime is a shared medium. Overloaded access points typically result in poor Wi-Fi performance for everybody in the form of network latency. More access points, each covering less space, may resolve the capacity issue. Likewise, access point load-balancing may be the remedy.

When dealing with capacity issues, the typical Wi-Fi optimization response is to “throw more hardware” at the problem. However, more access points can also cause more issues by clogging up the airwaves. Certified wireless network administrators can balance these issues and determine the proper steps to fix the wi-fi problems.

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