Thursday, April 18, 2024

Having fast WiFi is no longer an option. You simply have to have it to run your business efficiently. You need to conduct site surveying and maintenance to keep your WiFi healthy and fast. However, once in a while you will face challenges related to congestion, interference, improper configuration, poor design and poor maintenance. In this article, we will tackle some of the ways you can combat these issues.

Before we start, you should take note of something about WiFi airtime, which represents the amount of time that your access point (AP) or wireless device is transmitting. As the transmission speeds get slower, your device will demand more airtime, reducing the airtime other devices can use. You can’t have every device transmitting at once on a given channel.

Minimize interference

Minimizing or completely eliminating interference can go a long way toward speeding up your business WiFi. Interference usually stems from other WiFi networks in the area; non-WiFI signals within your radio spectrum; or co-channel interference within your network.

Now, of these sources of interference, only co-channel interference is within your immediate control.

If you have a small network, use a free Wi-Fi stumbler to find other channels. You can get a WiFi stumbler for your laptop or Android device.

If you are using a larger network, use map-based Wi-Fi surveying tools like the ones developed by Ekahau, AirMagnet, and TamoGraph when deploying your WiFi and periodically when checking for interference.

You can get more information about how to deal with interference here.

Use WPA2 and/or WPA3

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is not very secure, even though it is supported by nearly all access points (APs). Using Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) gives you greater security, though the level of security you’ll get is version-dependent. THe earliest versions of WPA have low data rates. The first version limits you to 54Mbps. So if you want superior data rates, you should use WPA2 and/or WPA3 security only.

Use 5GHz and band steering

One way to increase the number of channels available to you is to shift from the 2.4GHz band to 5GHz. So take care to use dual-band APs with 5GHz support. This will allow your older devices to connect on the lower band and newer ones to connect on the higher band. With lower congestion on the lower band, speeds will naturally accelerate. By splitting traffic to higher and lower bands, you will experience generally faster WiFi speeds. Whether you run a bank or a cosmetic dentistry practice, this can only be a plus.

Reduce the number of SSIDs

If you have configured more than on Service Set Identifier (SSID) on your APs, you should know that each network needs to broadcast beacons and management packets. This leads to higher than normal airtime consumptions. So, try and avoid using more than one SSID. If you have one private and one public SSID, that should be adequate for your needs. AVoid virtual SSIDs for stuff like segregating wireless access for each department.

If you need to segregate networks, give 802.1X authentication a shot. This will assign users to virtual LANs once they connect to your SSID. Then you can maintain a private SSID while segregating networks virtually.


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