shutterstock_328290551According to a recent Cisco study, 89% of all companies let their employees work on their own computing devices. Statista, an online statistics company, reports that the average American owns three devices, and that number is increasing. This surge in employee demand for WiFi strains the networks.

Previous coverage-based wireless network designs have ceased to meet current WiFi requirements. Optimizing wireless networks to accommodate coverage and capacity and taking additional steps to improve performance is a must.

Employees often deploy access points hastily, resulting in wasted effort, slow WiFi performance, and help desk requests from frustrated users. The five steps outlined below will help ensure optimum WiFi performance.

1. Plan WiFi Performance

This step involves asking stakeholders, such as managers and directors, how they expect to use WiFi. Questions to ask include:

  • How many wireless devices will be used?
  • What devices are they?
  • How many access points will be needed?
  • What settings must be tuned?

An infrastructure evaluation will also be necessary to determine whether it is possible to use or upgrade existing hardware.

2. Conduct a Wireless Site Survey

Wireless site surveys should be both pre- and post-deployment, and the former can be either predictive or AP on a stick. With a predictive survey, the engineer can plan the placing of access points using floor plans. With a manual AP on a stick survey, on the other hand, points are placed at different spots where readings are then taken. The post-deployment survey, in which the predictive survey and deployment are validated, is all too often neglected.

3. Perform Spectrum Analysis

Performing a spectrum analysis enables the engineer to pinpoint sources of interference in the 2.4- or 5-GHz ranges. Wireless video cameras, microwaves, and noise-emitting devices are all possible sources of interference.

4. Shut off 2.4-GHz Radios

This part of the spectrum is one of the most overcrowded, and large numbers of 2.4-GHz radios are in use. Three non-overlapping channels to use in that range exist in the United States. With many access points deployed, engineers must plan to reuse all of these and avoid co-channel interference. To make the final decision to turn off 2.4-GHz radios, one must know which devices will be using WiFi.

5. Avoid Co-Channel Interference

Co-channel interference occurs when coverage in the same area, with the same channel, is provided by more than one access point. Multiple access points serving clients on a single channel severely degrades wireless communication, depriving each device of the airtime that it can have.

To avoid this kind of interference, the engineer should make sure that each access point provides a carefully-planned cell size on a set of channels that do not overlap, thus ensuring that each client receives the optimum amount of airtime.

Taking these five steps will help optimize a company’s wireless networks and improve WiFi performance.