Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) is the automated functionality built into a WLAN platform that adjusts RF characteristics in an effort to maximize performance for wireless clients.
ARM uses the access points (APs) deployed in a facility or campus as sensors for providing feedback about the RF environment and then uses that feedback to make intelligent decisions about setting power levels, channels and adjusting client loads.
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Why is Adaptive Radio Management Important?
Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) is important because RF expertise is expensive and hard to come by.
ARM basically becomes your RF expert to help mitigate some of the issues that are experienced in the dynamic RF environment all WLAN installations are exposed to.
Because RF is an invisible medium, it is really hard to troubleshoot and really difficult to adjust if you don’t have sophisticated tools to facilitate these tasks. ARM takes care of making the adjustments and continually monitors and adjusts the WLAN for you.
What types of challenges does ARM solve?
ARM can solve quite a few issues but the most important thing to understand is that it cannot fix a bad WLAN design.
If the wireless network is not designed properly from the outset, no automated RF functionality is going to be able to overcome the issues a bad RF design induces into that environment.
ARM is focused on doing the following things to solve RF issues:
- Power levels – AP power levels should operate at levels symmetrical to client device power capabilities. Having too much power on the APs can be detrimental to the functionality of the WLAN. APs should be able to report on the power levels they see from neighboring APs and the WLAN platform should be able to adjust these power levels automatically so cell overlap is hospitable to roaming and good client connectivity.
- Channels – Manual channel plans in very large environments (100’s or 1000’s of APs) is difficult to do and is labor intensive. In some environments it is required but for all others the WLAN platform should be able to automatically assign channels to APs. Proper channel assignment is critical to a well performing wireless network.
- Client loads – In heavily populated areas; auditoriums, conference rooms, classrooms, etc.…. ARM will assist with making sure the wireless client devices get evenly distributed across the APs in the area.
- Air time fairness – WLANs typically have a mix of devices that have different capabilities and as a result you can have slower ones bringing the faster ones down to their speeds. ARM provides an air time fairness feature that divvies up the RF space into equal time slots so everyone experiences good performance.
- Roaming – ARM has functionality that constantly monitors client connections with APs and determines if the connection is healthy or if it can improve the connection by moving the client to a closer AP that provides a better signal. It also assists in the hand-off from AP to AP as a wireless device moves about and across a WLAN in a building, facility or campus.
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