Should I Upgrade My WLAN?

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Should I Upgrade My WLAN?

Why optimizing your existing WLAN may be a cheaper, easier solution for achieving reliable Wi-Fi

Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) have been game-changers in the business world – making it possible to be more productive and accessible than ever before.

Unlike its predecessor, the wired LAN, WLANs allow devices to connect and communicate wirelessly via Wi-Fi. At their best, they provide instant access to information and enable employees to work from anywhere within their company instead of being chained to a desktop computer. They also allow for instant responses to time-sensitive situations.

But frustrations quickly mount and productivity screeches to a halt when overwhelmed WLANs become sluggish. The rapidly rising number of mobile, Internet of Things, and BYOD devices in the workplace is placing a massive strain on legacy systems, leading to slowdowns, dropped messages, equipment malfunctions, and outages.

Every time a new WLAN version is rolled out, the hype surrounding its benefits pressures companies to upgrade. And while the promise of faster speeds and reliable and secure connectivity is enticing, upgrading your WLAN can be costly and complicated.

There’s often a false impression that it’s just a matter of swapping out the old hardware with the new. The reality is much more complex than a simple “rip and replaces” – especially if your users demand enterprise-grade speed and reliability. Most likely, you will need to conduct site surveys and make costly changes that include reconfiguring the system’s architecture, ensuring the right equipment is in place to lower interference and congestion, and replacing legacy devices that aren’t compatible with the new WLAN.

5 tips for optimizing your WLAN

Fortunately, there’s another solution for companies scrambling to find an effective but significantly less expensive option than a new or upgraded WLAN: optimizing your existing network.

Stuck access points, sticky clients, WLAN controller software issues, and overall poor management are just a few of the issues that prevent WLANs from offering secure, reliable coverage. Not only does your network have to handle an increasing number of devices demanding access around your hospital, campus, or business, but it also must seamlessly accommodate an increasing variety with different chipsets, operating systems, and power requirements.

A certified wireless network administrator can start with these simple optimization steps to improve WLAN performance:

  • Carefully consider the configuration of clients on your network and the applications they use. Certain devices and workstations accessing certain applications like voice-over WLANs can be bandwidth hogs – negatively impacting everybody else’s Wi-Fi performance. Adding additional access points to high-bandwidth areas can help enhance your WLAN.
  • The sheer quantity of devices in some areas can also overload access points and cause sluggish WLAN performance. Adding more access points so that each one covers less space can resolve this capacity issue. But keep in mind that throwing too much hardware at the problem can also cause issues – making matters worse by clogging the airwaves.
  • Your facility’s size is another important factor. Attenuation, or signal loss over distance and time, can cause clients located farther away from access points to suffer connectivity issues. A site survey can help you determine if you need to relocate access points or add more to optimize coverage.
  • Take a hard look at your facility. Radio frequencies struggle to penetrate dense materials like brick and concrete. Metal surfaces can also cause performance issues by reflecting signals. If your physical environment is contributing to spotty Wi-Fi, you may have to get creative with your wireless access point topology.
  • A knee-jerk reaction to poor WLAN performance is increasing the power output of access points. But keep in mind that too much power can negatively affect the signal to noise ratio – degrading performance, not enhancing it.

How 7SIGNAL guarantees fast, reliable Wi-Fi

These solutions help, but at the end of the day, most IT departments lack the expertise to optimize their WLAN and select the perfect balance of access points to achieve the reliable service that’s an expected part of today’s business environment. That’s why 7SIGNAL provides a WLAN Optimization Service, working quietly in the background to drastically enhance the capability, capacity, and performance of your network. Its goals: to achieve the highest levels of Wi-Fi performance and enhance the end-user experience within your facility.

The optimization process starts with a baseline report that measures key performance indicators, including throughput, packet loss, success rates, and complaints. From there, 7SIGNAL recommends changes based on this data from your WLAN environment and your current network configuration.

The impact of every change that’s implemented is analyzed and reported with recommended next steps. The service includes up to three optimizations and a set of PowerPoint reports delivered after each change.

Once the optimization process is complete, 7SIGNAL also provides ongoing WLAN assurance through Wi-Fi network monitoring and reporting services. This program – dubbed Sapphire Care – complements your regular WLAN controller configuration work with standard technical support, baseline reporting that demonstrates current WLAN performance, and quarterly reports generated by 7SIGNAL WLAN optimization service experts.

For example, a recent 7SIGNAL audit in a “Connected Hospital” in California uncovered a bug in Cisco Aironet 3500 and 3700 Series access points that drastically reduced connectivity, causing 5G radio to go silent. Once the bug was identified, Cisco released a patch that fixed the issue and the hospital’s Wi-Fi performance was back up to speed. To learn more about the issue of disappearing access points (APs), register for our upcoming webinar on Dec. 19th at 11 AM, EST.

In another case study, after 7SIGNAL implemented its optimization process at Ohio’s largest children’s hospital, the three participating departments reported throughput increased by up to 110 percent, packet losses reduced by 80 percent, and retransmission reduced by more than 50 percent, among other remarkable improvements.

By continuously and proactively monitoring your network and instantly reporting any issues that arise, 7SIGNAL reduces the amount of time and money your business spends on faulty Wi-Fi by quickly helping you resolve problems – often before helpdesk calls are ever made.

As the world becomes more connected, secure, reliable Wi-Fi coverage has never been more important to the success of your business. If spotty Wi-Fi is causing productivity to plummet and frustrating your customers and staff, optimizing your WLAN is a cost-effective and simpler alternative to replacing or upgrading your network. 7SIGNAL’s WLAN Optimization Process ensures that your Wi-Fi is up and running whenever your business needs it – and remains reliable and scalable enough to manage the fast-growing wireless demands of the future.

7SIGNAL offers Wi-Fi performance management solutions that ensure connectivity issues don’t disrupt productivity. Contact us to learn more.

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