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Wireless Network Management: What is slowing your wireless?

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | August 22, 2011

When talking about wireless network management I'm asked all the time “what kind of speed can we expect with our wireless network?" The answer is always "What is the slowest point on your network?" The slowest point on the network is the speed limit. Its like asking how fast a car will go…in a 25mph school zone, the answer is 25mph.

school wireless network speed, wireless network management , wifi service providers,

Here are some of the places that traditionally slow down your wireless network:

Device – What type of device is going to be what you use for testing?  Legacy devices that are only “G” capable are at best going to be able to do 54mpbs, newer “N” devices can handle 300mbps and up depending on the antennas .    

Access Point – Running legacy A,B,G access points will limit your speed to 54mpbs, as more users are added to that access point speeds are divided down per user, so a 54mbps AP with 30 users on it could at BEST give  1.8mbps to each user.  Wireless “N” gives 300mbps, with 50 users speeds can be estimated at 6mbps for each user.  

Legacy Cat5 cable is rated to 100M
Cat5e is rated to 350m
Cat6 is rated to 550-1000m depending on the source

Switch/POE Injector/ Core Switches
The product that actually provides the power to the access point can be the next choke point in the network.   10/100 switches/injectors are going to limit the 300mbps access point to 100mbps, there is no getting around that.  10/100/1000 will allow the “N” access point to run the full 300mbps.

Internet Gateway v. Network Resources – Customers often think of the internet and the network as the same thing, this isn’t the way speed is measured.  Local network resources can be accessed at speed of your slowest network component, for example a shared drive on the local network can be accessed at 300mbps (the speed of the access point assuming everything else is 10/100/1000), that same file saved in the cloud is restricted to your internet connection speed.

So at the end of the day, if you have 300mbps to your wireless devices and a 5mbps internet connection being shared by 200 employees, there is a good chance trying to stream youtube videos on your ipad is going to be a painfully slow process. For help with you can contact us for a free consultation or download our free wireless design guide. Good luck!


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