There are many challenges that every K-12 IT manager has to face on a day to day basis. Wi-Fi performance represents just a small portion, albeit a very important portion that can't be overlooked.
Out of all the challenges that exist on your school wireless network today there are 3 that are more common than any others, and they’re constantly, as the title suggests, ruining your day.
Limited Design (Coverage vs Capacity)
Having a limited RF design causes a lot of frustrating wifi problems, for example, choppy video and long connection times.
Even if you have proper coverage (i.e. strong signal strength) and more than enough bandwidth to go around, why can you still find your end-users complaining that the wifi is slow?
Typically it's because your school's WLAN design was based only on coverage and didn't incorporate capacity.
Capacity is based on context:
- the number of devices
- the types of devices (and their different capabilities)
- the numbers of users
- the different types of applications being run over the network.
Coverage is great if you're the only one connecting to the network, but Wi-Fi being a shared medium, the more devices and the more users you have, the less juice you have to go around.
Applications and Devices
Two different sets of applications can be found on today's school wireless networks: mission-critical (operational apps) and non-mission-critical (recreational apps).
Applications like online testing and learning management systems (LMS) shouldn't have to deal with slow wifi performance because students, guests or even other faculty members are streaming YouTube videos or posting to social media platforms like Facebook and SnapChat.
These two sets of applications can efficiently co-exist, it just takes the right wireless platform with the right network access policies in place.
Implementing the correct rules will allow every application and every user/device to have exactly what they need, nothing more and nothing less.
Suggested Reading: Do You Need Network Access Control? 10 Questions To Ask Yourself
Not Enough Time
Wi-Fi problems can be difficult to troubleshoot, there's many different variables that could be to blame. It could be:
- The Application
- The Device
- Your Firewall
- A Switch
- Outdated Security Policies
- Outdated RF Design
- Failure to Perform Routine System Updates
These are just some of the possibilities that makes pinpointing what's causing your wifi problems so difficult. However, an often overlooked source of frustration is the lack of time.
Many school IT departments are small, and as we stated at the start of this blog post, wireless is just one part of the K-12 IT manager's list of responsibilities.
With a limited staff comes limited ability to effectively manage the network. For example, do you always remember to run regular software updates? Are you able to proactively monitor and manage the health of your wireless network?
Working with an experienced managed service provider can help alleviate some or all of your network management tasks. It's a misunderstanding that managed services replaces your entire team, or is an all or nothing solution.
The truth is, managed services can be as little or as much as you need. It can also be available on an as needed basis, for example, projects and special events.
Time shouldn't be the reason your school is dealing with wifi performance issues, so maybe it's time to stop ignoring managed services as a valuable solution.
Where to Start
Properly defining and solving your wifi problems takes a few things:
- Working with an experienced and qualified wireless service provider
- Completing a predictive site survey and/or an on-site wireless site survey
- Understanding your financial options
At SecurEdge, we deliver affordable, robust, and secure wireless platforms – it’s all we do. If you have any questions about wireless network design or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here today.