How to boost Wi-Fi performance: Experts talk planning, troubleshooting
Craig Mathias | October 10, 2018
With wireless now the preferred, default, and increasingly only access in the majority of in-building, campus, metro-scale hotspot and wide-area settings, achieving optimal performance is a key objective for IT departments. Since radio-frequency (RF) propagation always involves a high degree of variability, it’s often difficult to predict the precise behavior of a given installation. Variables include operating conditions, user and application traffic demands, and the capabilities and settings of individual vendor products. When mobility, Wi-Fi testing and verification are also taken into consideration, performance evaluation can become very complex indeed. Performance variables include throughput, coverage, time-bounded traffic (primarily telephony and streaming video), reliability, security, rate-vs.-range behavior and traffic varying with motion, range, time of day and location. Perhaps the most important is capacity – the ability to successfully address the requirements of all traffic demands in any given location and at any given moment. With Wi-Fi equipment price/performance ratios continually improving with advances in standards, technologies and implementations, many IT shops have taken a brute-force approach: Just upgrade and/or add access points (AP) and Wi-Fi controllers, Ethernet switches and related hardware as indicated.