If you’re and IT administrator managing a campus Wi-Fi network chances are you’ve gotten this call:
User: “I can see the wireless network is available and I can connect to it but I can’t get to the internet.”
You: “what device are you using?”
User: “Well, I’m connecting with my laptop and everything is fine, but I can’t connect with my iPhone”.
Hmmm...That’s weird. Is it the iOS or Android software? How could it be that two mobile devices are sitting side by side yet one won’t work? Logic says it’s not a signal issue, but what the heck is it?
There certainly are some things that could be going wrong here that aren’t related to signal strength, etc. But most likely this issue is something that not a lot of wireless solution vendors are talking about. But it’s an issue that everyone needs to be talking about.
If a user is sitting in one spot and is able to connect with his or her laptop but not able to connect with a smart phone the issue is that mobile devices themselves have low powered Wi-Fi chipsets.
Let me explain the issue further:
When your device (whatever it is) is communicating with a wireless access point it has to be able to receive AND send data. A laptop has a high powered chipset in most cases. However, mobile devices such as tablet PCs, smart phones, etc. were built to be lightweight and have a long battery life. What that means for you is that many times users can see the wifi signal but the device isn’t strong enough to send anything to the AP. This creates a frustrating experience for the user and it can develop into a nightmare for the helpdesk.
This creates a pretty big challenge if you’re managing a hospital wireless network and a Doctor wants to use his iPad for medical imaging (and statistics show that they do)…..If you haven’t heard, Doctors tend to be a pretty demanding group of users.
The issue is...
Not that your wireless network solution sucks (hopefully) it’s that your wireless network design was completed to provide performance needed for laptops and not for an iPhone streaming a YouTube video. Today’s wireless site surveys must take into account the use of tablets, smart phones, etc…..which are quickly becoming the primary access method for users.
So what do you do about it?
At SecurEdge, we’re in the business of designing, deploying, and supporting these large scale wireless networks so of course I’m going to say that you need to get a wireless consultant that knows what they’re doing. But the short answer is that you need to have distributed coverage and lots of it. That’s the only way to account for the low powered devices.
If you do need some help, you can contact us here to talk to one of our consultants at no charge. We’ve also got some great free resources that you can download to get you going in the right direction. Best of luck!