3 Wireless Network Design Changes with 802.11n

Many schools and hospitals are upgrading their wireless solutions from legacy 802.11abg networks to 802.11n. If they are deploying wireless for the first time they are almost certainly planning to use 802.11n as their solution of choice. But there are some differences in how the newer platform works that require a different approach and sometimes a revisit of your current wireless site design.

Wireless Network DesignConsider these three changes in wireless design:

  • AP Placement: Placement has changed due to the way that 802.11n utilizes multipath signals. Essentially this means the radio signals that were discarded in legacy wireless are now used with 802.11n. This coupled with bonded channels and multiple radio streams provide better data rates in areas where historically they may have been unusable. RF signals bounce around so much that places where RF was hard to get to are now reachable with 802.11n. In many instances legacy wireless implementations utilized a “down the hall” approach to laying out the AP’s. Now we are placing the AP’s directly in the rooms and benefiting from the difference in signal propagation.
  • Antenna Orientation: We are changing our ways of orienting antennae also because of multipath use with 802.11n. For example: a 3x3 802.11n AP has three antennas. Instead of placing all three of the antennas in the same configuration orient each at different angles to get the best signal propagation. The idea is to alter the signal path in ways that improve reception & transmission.
  • AP Counts are Different: If you were comparing a legacy wireless deployment with 802.11n and were only replacing AP's we've seen the same coverage replacing every 3 legacy AP's with 2 n AP's (because of the points above). So the new AP’s do cover more area than legacy AP’s. However, when we are deploying new n AP’s we are typically adding the newer platform at a rate of 2 legacy: 3 new. The reason is because our clients are asking for coverage in places not previously targeted and higher capacity due to the increase in the number of mobile devices being used. So the upgrade is not 1:1.

If you are considering a change or upgrade to the newer wireless platform feel free to use us as a resource. Or if you have any questions, feel free to ask us below in the comments or contact us directly.

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Michael McNamee

Michael McNamee

Michael is the Practice Manager of Security and Mobility at SecurEdge Networks. A true Wi-Fi “Guru”, he has an incredible ability at solving the most challenging wireless mess and then helping you understand it all.