A fast, reliable and scalable Wi-Fi network is no longer merely a convenience — it is an operational imperative. It underpins some of today’s most important technology initiatives, ranging from remote work and the Internet of Things to edge computing and customer journey analytics.
However, many organizations are still struggling to optimize the wireless infrastructure. According to a recent survey of wireless networking professionals, as many as one-third of the world’s Wi-Fi networks experience regular performance issues resulting in outages and business interruptions.
Poor upfront planning is often the culprit when wireless networks don’t perform up to expectations. Designing and implementing a Wi-Fi network requires significant planning to determine how many access points (APs) are needed, where they should be placed and how they should be configured. Without that preparation, organizations can wind up with spotty connectivity, dead zones and interference.
No Easy Fixes
Even wireless LANs that have been performing adequately require periodic design reviews to accommodate changing network requirements. That will certainly be true in the coming months as tens of millions of employees return to their offices in either a full-time or hybrid capacity, bringing a variety of endpoint devices with them.
Supporting more users and more devices is not simply a matter of adding more APs. Too many APs will actually degrade performance by creating traffic overlaps. The effect has been likened to trying to have a conversation in a crowded room — there are just too many people talking at the same time.
Some organizations try to meet changing demands by adding more WLAN controllers to manage APs, but that is often counterproductive. WLAN administration becomes even more cumbersome with every piece of hardware that is added. For example, controllers must be individually configured or else default settings such as automated channel selection will result in signal interference with too much traffic trying to move through the same channel.
Evolving Wi-Fi standards will also affect WLAN design in 2021. Next-generation wireless technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6 were specifically developed to address network congestion and capacity limitations by enabling greater speed and more data capacity with lower latency. According to a recent Deloitte survey, more than 85 percent of networking executives believe these technologies will transform their organizations and create significant competitive advantages within the next two years.
A Continuous Process
However, supporting these new standards will require design modifications. For example, achieving the multi-gigabit speeds possible with Wi-Fi 6 will require new APs with a faster WLAN interface. You may also need to upgrade your core network backbone to prevent communications bottlenecks.
Whether or not you plan to leverage these new standards, Wi-Fi networks require continuous evaluation and adjustments to support evolving business technologies and ever-growing numbers of users and devices. Here are some of the key WLAN characteristics that require regular fine-tuning:
- The number of APs required
- APs positioning
- AP firmware status
- Estimated bandwidth usage for every device
- Potential sources of signal interference
- Load-balancing requirements
Verteks can help you address all of these factors. Our comprehensive WLAN planning service includes wireless site surveys and heat-mapping services that provide insight into AP placement and Wi-Fi coverage, making it easy to detect and resolve dead zones, interference, signal contention and other connectivity issues.
We will provide you with a detailed evaluation, including maps of your current Wi-Fi coverage and proposed improvements to your environment. Contact us today to learn more.