Frustration might be one of the worst human emotions we can experience.
You feel angry, short-tempered and stuck, basically you just want to give up and throw in the towel.
Wireless problems are a common catalyst, mostly because everyone expects it to just work, so went it's not people tend to get pretty upset with little sympathy.
Wireless networks are alive. They're dynamic, complex systems that require a lot of understanding and a lot of experience to get them to perform the way we need and want them to.
With that said, diagnosing your wifi performance problems can be equally as challenging. There's many different variables and every network is unique, however, there are five different places we can start to help end the frustration.
1. Your WLAN Wasn't Designed for Capacity
There was a time when providing reliable access meant having the right amount of coverage or the right amount of RF signal.
However, with the increasing numbers of mobile devices accessing your network and the different ways those devices and their applications are impacting your network's wifi performance, the days of relying on coverage alone are obsolete.
Today, high-performing WLAN designs require both coverage and capacity.
Capacity means your network was designed with context in mind by addressing various new questions, such as:
- What type of devices and applications are your end-users using?
- How many devices are accessing your network in a given location?
- What mix of devices do you find in a given location?
- Which access points are experiencing the most load?
- What is the performance profile or capability of each different device?
For example, auditoriums and conference rooms are generally spaces that support more people and consequently more devices.
Based on your wifi heat maps it appears those areas have ample coverage and maybe they do, but what happens when the access point that was built to support 40 devices now has to support 80, you get the idea.
2. Over/Under Engineered WLAN Design
In many cases, the wifi problems we're called in to fix involve the wireless network being over or under engineered.
Over-engineered meaning too many access points and under-engineered meaning too few.
In both scenarios this could also mean deploying the wrong type of access point as well.
Having too many access points typically means a lot of interference and poor wifi performance, too few means poor performance because you simply don't have proper coverage or capacity.
Your WLAN is a huge investment both in time and money, so make sure you do your homework when it comes to choosing the right wireless service provider.
The Wi-Fi engineering process is complicated, it takes experience, the right certifications and a lot of skill to get it right the first time.
Check out the video below on choosing the right wireless service provider and the 4 questions you should ask before designing your new wireless network.
3. Too Old
I remember my first cell phone, not a smartphone, cell phone. I had snake, my messages, and phone calls. No Facetime, no Skype, no YouTube, no candy crush, and no “cloud.”
This was just my phone...
The point is, technology is always moving forward, and what was once cutting-edge within 12-18 months has become a relic of the past.
If your wireless network is over four years old, chances are things that might have been running smoothly before aren't so much anymore.
Today's wireless networks have an effective lifespan between three and four years. This is based on a few things:
- Rapid rate at which devices evolve
- New applications and software updates
- Security threats adapt and evolve
- Your physical environment can change (new buildings etc.)
- Advances in infrastructure components (access points, switches, firewalls etc.)
4. You Have Poor Visibility
If you can’t see what's happening on your wireless network then you have no reliable way of knowing how anything is performing.
You can’t set it and forget it, your wireless network needs to be monitored at all times. A network management system gives you real-time analytics and visibility into your network, keeping it healthy, reliable and secure.
A good network management system should provide insight into things like:
- Visibility of device connections - gives you current data on client devices accessing your network.
- Visibility of signal coverage - provides a heat map of the RF signal coverage influx throughout the day.
- Visibility of device locations - using access points your NMS will be able to triangulate the location of end-user devices throughout the entire network.
Real-time visibility and usage analytics are important because you are able to be more proactive when it comes to maintaining optimal network performance, as well as preventing and/or fixing issues quicker.
5. You have limited control over access to your network
Controlling access to your network not only supports proper security it also impacts wifi performance as well.
There are many different ways your end-users access your network and for many different reasons.
Not having the proper components in place to manage network access leaves you at risk and creates a chaotic environment.
Role-based access control allows you to identify who that user or device is, assign them a role and then enforce access rules based on pre-determined criteria for each role you've created.
This allows you to speed up on-boarding and authentication, control where specific devices and users are allowed to go on the network and overall better manage this process.
Check out this video by Senior Network Engineer, Michael McNamee for a more in-depth look into the benefits of using Role-Based Access Control.
Do Something About It!
For most IT professionals wireless is just one aspect of your overall responsibilities. However, your wireless platform is a utility like electricity, and you can't afford to keep struggling to get it to perform correctly.
At SecurEdge Networks, it’s our mission to help you create an affordable, robust, secure, and easy to support wireless network platform. If you have any questions about your current wireless frustrations or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here today.