Today’s article is written by guest blogger Greg Kamer, former Mirazon employee and pre-sales system engineer at Ruckus Wireless, a best of breed wireless networking vendor.
Long gone are the days of putting an office Wi-Fi access point (AP) in a hallway and walking down said hallway until the signal dies. There was freedom in that, and also ease of design. Now you design for capacity (or you should).
In the past, Wi-Fi was mostly used for web browsing and email. It was more of a convenience. Now there is much we do wouldn’t have done in the past, like stream music and movies, post photos and all other kinds of bandwidth-intensive activities. Think about it: almost every mobile device ships with a Wi-Fi chipset. And with many phones that support Wi-Fi and the carriers clamping down on data plans, users will look for an open Wi-Fi connection so they can use your bandwidth!
On average, most users will have two devices in an environment, which means that you need to consider a capacity design so your environment stays solid when your employees and guests need it. Remember that even if you have a great coverage, users at the edge of a coverage cell will experience diminished performance and the overall capacity will suffer. If you cut lower data rates out and decrease cell size, you can potentially increase throughput, but then reduce coverage. This begs an expert, capacity-based design that includes a wireless site survey.
Another factor when designing for capacity is mitigating co-channel interference. Since you have to put more APs into a certain area or environment, you will have more overlapping channels. Auto channel settings in vendor gear may not be sufficient for the environment. Remember, there are only three non-overlapping channels in the 2.4Ghz b/g/n space. Use them wisely. Again, one cannot over emphasize the importance of a design and survey.
What does this mean? More APs? Probably, but remember the network is meant to be used, not just seen. You must design the network well so that it provides a great end user experience and boosts productivity.