These days’ wireless networks are so commonplace that people just expect to have high-performing connectivity everywhere they go, no matter what time, on any device.
Typically when we’re asked to come in and fix an under-performing or “broken” network (for lack of a better term) it’s because the current design was based on outdated best practices using bad software.
This is especially true in high-density areas that are very complex to support. These are environments like hospital waiting areas, large lecture halls, stadiums, and airports; basically anywhere where a lot of devices are connecting to your wireless network.
Where people get into trouble is when they try to support high-density areas by planning for coverage and not capacity.
Coverage was great about 10 years ago when almost no one thought about whether or not Wi-Fi was available. Fast forward to today and our lives almost shut down if we can’t get online. This is a big reason why designing and deploying high-performing wireless networks has changed.
Here are four critical wireless network design steps you need to follow to ensure maximum performance in high-density areas.
Complete a proper wireless site survey
Not all site surveys or wireless assessments are created equal. If you’re relying on a site survey that was done using software that came free from the manufacturer, you’re already in trouble before you even got started.
You should always start with a predictive site survey and an analysis of your current environment using blueprints, building materials and what/how many devices and applications you will be supporting. Then move to a physical or on-site wireless site survey that will validate the previous predictive site survey and expand upon it using a real world environment.
The success of your wireless network is directly linked to how well you plan ahead of time, so make sure you’re not cutting any corners or relying on bad information.
Plan for capacity
As we stated before planning for coverage only will have pretty disastrous results, in today’s complex wireless environments planning for capacity is critical to success.
You have to take into account the number of devices, the types of devices and what applications they will be running on your network to effectively plan for capacity in high-density areas.
It’s important that your WLAN has the ability to automatically move your users from access point to access point based on the AP’s utilization.
Not all wireless network solutions have this feature so it’s important to make sure you choose one that does.
Network Access Control
Also referred to as mobile device registration, network access control gives you the ability to securely register any device that you don’t own.
NAC allows you to know who is connected to your network, what device they’re using, what applications they are using, and even things like time of day and location. From there you can create policies or rules based on these various factors.
Mobility and high-performing connectivity is pointless if it’s not secure, and although network access control adds some cost to your deployment it’s more than worth it knowing that you’re network is secure.