How to Optimize Your Wireless Network Design for Mobile Devices

The goal of optimizing your wireless network design for mobile (wireless) devices is that they perform as required so your end-users can be productive. 

It’s a simple statement but in today's WLAN environments it's not only true but also mission-critical for everyone's success. 

The amount of mobile devices has continued to increase exponentially across every industry. From Healthcare and Higher Education to K-12, Retail and even Hospitality and Warehousing/Manufacturing. 

Whether it's through BYOD, corporate owned programs, 1:1 initiatives in K-12, or the IoT, your wireless network has to be designed to properly support the quantities and varieties of connected devices accessing your network.  

With the right wireless network design optimized for mobile devices you can make sure you're delivering a robust, reliable and safe user experience that can scale from today's needs to tomorrow's demands. 

Here's an overview of what you'll need, the benefits you can expect, as well as some of the challenges you'll face along the way. 

From a Technical Perspective 

There is a lot from the technical perspective that needs to be addressed in order to optimize your RF design for mobile devices, including: 

  • Designs have to be done for 5GHz (2.4GHz is only a legacy relic) 
  • Adjust so 5GHz is 6dB higher than 2.4GHz signal  
  • Design for the device and its capability (1ss or 2ss) (high power or low power) 
  • Design for the application (business apps vs voice/video vs web/email)  
  • Target an RSSI signal level at –67dB for all mobile devices
  • Eliminate CCC (co-channel contention) & ACC (adjacent channel contention)  
  • Design RF cell overlap to facilitate optimal roaming

From a Business Perspective  

The technical aspects of your design are obviously critical, however, the real takeaway is that you need to properly plan for the use of mobile devices on your network before you purchase them or allow them on your network. This requires two main things: 

  • Understanding the Wi-Fi engineering process, starting with completing a predictive RF design 
  • Working with an experienced team (wireless service provider) when it comes to properly executing a predictive wireless site survey 

Supporting mobile and other connected devices has become the rule not the exception, and it starts with having the right WLAN design.

Suggested Reading: Predictive Wireless Designs: What You Should Expect to Receive [Whiteboard Wednesday]

What are the Benefits? 

There are many benefits of having a Wi-Fi network that's optimized for mobile, starting with the fact that it supports a productive and enjoyable experience for your end users. 

Again, from the technical side of things (specifically the requirements listed above) there are many benefits: 

  • Use of 5GHz improves performance due to cleaner, less contentious spectrum.   
  • Setting 5GHz higher than 2.4GHs helps mobile devices pick 5GHz over 2.4GHz.   
  • Designing for the device and its capability ensures proper capacity for the WLAN.   
  • Understanding the applications to be used and designing for them ensures proper performance of the WLAN.   
  • Targeting –67dB is essential to providing an optimal connected experience for the mobile wireless client.   
  • Eliminating CCC & ACC is just another component in making sure the air is optimized to facilitate a good connected experience for the wireless client.   
  • Cell optimization just means that there is minimal overlap of cells created by the APs so that roaming across APs as wireless clients, who are mobile in the space, are able to move from AP to AP.   

What are the Main Challenges? 

Like a lot of things in WLAN design there are some obstacles you need to avoid along the way if you want to be successful. 

Here's a list of the four main challenges when optimizing your network for mobile: 

  • Addressing the needs and behaviors of a plethora of devices that all are very different. Each device has a behavior profile that impacts the wireless network.
  • In some environments where multiple networks exist, it is challenging to eliminate CCC & ACC and get the networks to play well together.   
  • Transitioning from legacy WLAN deployments where APs were installed in hallways to in room deployments as required now.    
  • Getting the design right from the start so we can implement some of the automated RF functions to make the small, dynamic adjustments to keep the WLAN optimal.

Suggested Reading: 4 Common RF Design Challenges Every IT Manager Needs to Consider

Getting Started 

The first step to creating the right environment for reliable and robust mobile device use is understanding and following the Wi-Fi engineering process. 

From here it’s important that you engage with a professional and verify their industry and vendor certifications. WLAN design, installation and support is a skilled endeavor and requires training and experience to be done properly. 

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.   

wireless network design kit, wireless service providers,
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.