Internet usage in the workplace has come a long way and modern offices can no longer perform essential tasks without it. Many workplaces can’t function at all if service isn’t working.
Wi-Fi performance is crucial for productivity, so it needs to be fast, consistent, and high-quality on a daily basis. And that’s not always easy for a technology that depends on radio waves to create hotspots of network connectivity.
The latest Wi-Fi update is the release of 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6, which is expected to be the fastest wireless standard yet, able to provide connectivity to highly-congested spaces as the average number of devices in a given area continues to increase.
But until Wi-Fi is completely perfected, there are going to be issued to deal with and upgrades to implement for any modern business. To assess whether your enterprise Wi-Fi is needed an upgrade, watch for the following warning signs and take a look at what could be causing them.
Slow webpage loads and spotty service are common issues. If employees complain that it takes an abnormal amount of time to pull up numerous web pages in an Internet browser or to send an email, this is a clear warning sign of an underlying network issue. Properly-working Wi-Fi should allow for almost instantaneous online communication and webpage loading, almost all of the time. While loading can take a few seconds for a variety of reasons, including a particular site’s architecture or capacity issues, something’s up if slow load times become the norm across multiple sites.
Warning signs like a long delay in backing up your files could mean that your router needs to be replaced with a newer version – especially if it’s three to four years old. Your router should ideally support whatever the latest Wi-Fi standard is, currently 802.11ac, or Wi-Fi 5, but as mentioned above, we will soon be transitioning to Wi-Fi 6 (probably later in 2019, but the Wi-Fi Alliance has already started to certify some Wi-Fi 6 devices).
The position of a router’s antennae can also affect performance. For 2.4GHz networks, which can cover a lot of distance but may perform slower, positioning some antennae upright and some antennae flat on your router may work best. For 5 GHz networks, which provide faster service in shorter distances, try positioning antennae perpendicular, upright, or at a 45-degree angle.
Loading problems or spotty coverage could also mean that you’re not getting enough bandwidth, which is the maximum amount of data that can be transferred over an Internet connection in a given timeframe. Because office networks have to deal with many different computers and devices which could be using a lot of resources at a given time, it may be a good idea to block certain applications or websites that aren’t work-related and could end up hogging bandwidth.
Connection problems could be due to poor signal coverage. Think of it like talking to someone – you speak, the sound waves carry to their ears, and they process what you’re saying. Similarly, Wi-Fi devices can’t properly communicate with each other when signals are too weak to do their job.
One cause of poor signals is too much distance from the Wi-Fi hotspot. Sometimes, however, signals can experience interference caused by physical barriers, which leads us to the next point …
Radio-frequency interference (RFI) is when a signal is blocked because of environmental issues. Building materials could cause a lot of RFI, especially denser construction substances like metal, concrete, brick, marble, or tile. Furniture and appliances can also cause RFI that could impact your signal.
What happens in the latter case is known as absorption: when a signal is absorbed into an object instead of bouncing off of it. Absorption occurs to varying degrees and can cause a big loss of signal strength.
An additional RFI consideration is the number of connected devices in a given area that are using the same frequencies as your wireless enterprise network, whether it uses 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies. Take into account, for example, if there are a lot of Bluetooth devices nearby or even smart Internet of Things (IoT) building devices. These could interfere with Wi-Fi.
Wireless enterprise network managers should also consider the number and location of access points, which are devices that create a wireless local area network (WLAN) that Wi-Fi compatible devices can then connect to via a router. Coverage gaps can be caused by too few access points. For a standard enterprise network, you’ll usually need at least one access point for every 3,000 square feet.
The good news: there’s a way to resolve any problems you’re having with your wireless enterprise network performance and quality. The first step is finding the culprit, which sometimes requires help from network monitoring professionals. We can certainly help with that.
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.