Many network managers think that Wi-Fi performance and quality are always caused by these common issues. But here’s why fixing them doesn’t always resolve the source of the problem
Any enterprise has faced frustrating Wi-Fi issues, especially when the technology was first implemented. However, with all the tools available to you, your network performance and quality should no longer be a difficult issue—especially not when so many business functions depend on a continuous, reliable connection (that also must be fast).
You may think that a bundle of common network issues are what’s most impacting performance, but many times there is simply one surprising, underlying problem that is overlooked. Here are some common problems that may or may not be hurting Wi-Fi performance in the long run.
Not enough APs
One common issue that’s commonly identified in large organizations is a lack of access points (APs). While this can be a big problem and it’s important to find the right number of APs for your space and coverage needs, often IT staff will overcompensate and deploy too many APs. This is troublesome when the performance issue could have been solved without adding any APs at all.
If you think you have too few APs, a better solution may be to focus on their placement and the network design. AP signals can actually become weaker if one AP is experiencing co-channel interference with another AP, for example. So, before you start deploying additional units, check if the current placement of them is the real problem.
Physical obstacles that cause interference
Various materials and structures like walls, shelves, and equipment can create obstacles to Wi-Fi signals. Referred to as absorption or reflection, this is another issue that can and does cause problems. However, in some cases, the source of your interference may not be structural at all.
RF interference is caused by all the “noise”—radio frequency energy—which all electronic devices and equipment produce. So, if every device in the area is on the same frequency, RF interference can happen. With the number of devices potentially entering and exiting your space every day, this is a pretty big consideration.
Even if you map out your campus or building and believe you’re avoiding interference caused by the structure itself, remember that you also must consider the high-density and high-usage areas where more coverage will be needed within your network.
Using a lower or higher frequency
The two wireless frequencies are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and understanding them fully is a must. Often, you may think that you need to be on the 5 GHz band exclusively because it will perform better for your enterprise. But this isn’t always the case.
The main difference between the two is that 2.4 GHz provides slower speeds for data transmissions but can reach wider ranges, while 5 GHz gives less coverage but provides faster transmission speeds. Thus, while you may think that low Wi-Fi performance means you’re using the wrong frequency and should upgrade to 5 GHz, this depends on a variety of factors. If you switch to 5 GHz, you may find that you don’t have as much range and coverage that’s necessary for your business, so doing so won’t solve the problem.
The underlying issue could be from interference from surrounding devices. If this is causing the performance on one of the frequencies to be poor, using the 5 GHz band could actually improve performance if this band isn’t as widely used as the 2.4 GHz. 5 GHz also has more non-overlapping channels. Understanding the true pros and cons of these two bands will help you make a holistic decision, not one based on the assumption that the lower-frequency band is causing slow Wi-Fi.
There are many reasons that your Wi-Fi could be performing poorly. The one surefire way to get to the bottom of the issue? Wireless network monitoring. Successful network management requires continuously testing and observing for performance and quality to also be continuous.
At 7SIGNAL, our monitoring tools and solutions help you to track, identify, and solve the real issues that are impacting performance and quality.
7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise Wireless Network Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wireless Network Monitoring (WNM) solution that continuously troubleshoots the wireless network for performance issues – maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed for the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies and is currently deployed at Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Microsoft, and many others. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 4 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com