Wi-Fi performance is more important than most people realize. Although network performance often makes people think about thoughput (the amount of information processed by a computer, or amount of work it can do in a given period of time), wireless performance is actually becoming the key to maximizing productivity.
Wi-Fi is an essential part of network access; depending on your role and what you are trying to do, wireless these days could be your only or primary way to access the network.
Its reliability requires the ability to handle large amounts of users and devices, of all types. It’s critical that school IT departments are constantly evaluating their school Wi-Fi infrastructures. They should focus on upgrading their overall Wi-Fi performance, ensuring it’s always reliable, while also making sure they are staying efficient with their budgets and operational expenses.
In order for your school wireless network to stay ahead of the curve, we’ve put together some useful ways to increase the capabilities of your wireless network and optimize your infrastructure for maximum performance.
You may think that the optimal way to boost your wireless network is to expand your coverage. This isn’t the case though. Instead, capacity will go much further in improving performance.
You can optimize capacity by increasing the density of access points and reducing the distance between wireless endpoints. There are also lower cost ways to deal with light usage areas on campus. In these areas, where the demand is lighter, you can utilize a repeater instead of another access point.
Suggested Reading: "5 Simple Reasons You're Having Terrible Wi-Fi Performance"
Consider Traffic Types
Nowadays, people are on multiple types of devices doing multiple types of tasks. These tasks now include applications, videos, streaming and more, on devices such as smartphones, tablets, iPads, laptops, smart watches, smart TV’s and more. It’s definitely not just about surfing the web anymore and transferring files.
Today’s wireless equipment manufacturers can optimize for different classes of traffic. This means, once the needs are identified, LANs can be tweaked, or even automated, to be optimized to what devices people are using and what they’re doing. This will help in making the Wi-Fi network more reliable for its users.
Utilize Performance Assessments
What does an assessment have to do with upgrading a school Wi-Fi network? As it turns out, more than you think. Each school has different needs, different amounts of traffic, and using different devices for different things. The difficulty with mobile is that when something does go wrong it’s hard to pinpoint what and where it is. With application performance monitoring you can have greater visibility into what’s going on from the user’s point of view.
It is incredibly beneficial to explore your LAN management system. What is it capable of? Are you utilizing its capabilities? Some can auto-assign or reassign channels. Make sure you are making full use of the management system you have. If your equipment is outdated, it is something to consider upgrading sooner than later.
Take Advantage of Analytics
Analytics are also becoming a big part of your wireless infrastructure’s performance. They help IT professionals see potential problems before they can happen—effectively preventing the costs associated with emergent issues.
Companies like 7Signal have systems that can track and trend your wi-fi performance over time. This allows you to gather the data you need in-order to optimize your WLAN as well as plan for future network migrations, for example, upgrading to 802.11ac.
Lastly, assess your entire infrastructure. Is it able to handle the amount of devices, can it support your application requirements and number of users? Are there bottlenecks? How does this affect your wired infrastructure? The more information you have overall, the easier it is to properly boost your wireless performance in the ways you need to
The beauty of creating goals and then doing the assessments is being able to identify what is critical, and what you can implement later. You can upgrade your wireless network in steps, supporting what you need in phases.
You’ll want to first target the areas where bottle-necking occurs regularly. Look at what technologies will improve your wireless performance. Make sure your security is strong. It’s actually a contributor to weakening a network. Security is paramount in a wireless environment, insufficient or outdated security will leave exposed and this can’t happen in today’s education landscape.
The key is continuing to assess and look at what’s working and what isn’t. Make both short-term and long-term goals. Realize that demand will continue to grow, and that capacity can always be added.
The need for a strong wireless network isn’t going anywhere. One of the best things you can do to save on extra costs for your school wireless network, users and their devices, is to be proactive when it comes to your network and it’s Wi-Fi performance.
At SecurEdge we have been helping school's of all sizes analyze and optimize their wireless network/infrastructure. If you have any questions regarding your current school Wi-Fi network or would like to discuss your next network refresh, simply contact us here!