Getting the most out of your office Wi-Fi

Peter Vergeer | September 23, 2015 | Blog

Getting the most out of your office Wi-Fi

September 23, 2015

It has been said, only somewhat jokingly, that Wi-Fi, and by association, Internet access has overtaken shelter and sleep on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

With the rapid growth of fibre optic networks and gigabit switches you would expect lightning fast speeds from your Wi-Fi network, especially at your place of employment. Unfortunately for many businesses, this is simply not the reality.

For most businesses who operate from business parks or public and shared spaces, employees tend to experience just the opposite. However, the poor speed and quality that a lot of office users are subjected to can in some instances be quickly remedied at little or no cost to the business or end user.

Why is my Wi-Fi connection so bad?

The biggest problem we find when going on site, is that companies do not scan for existing Wi-Fi signals when deploying their new or extra access points. We often find hundreds of access points blasting their signal in shared spaces, all using the same range.

Another big problem is access points that have been installed in the wrong place. For example, in the corner of the office, or locked up in a closet where their ADSL line is terminated.

Too many users

 

 

Many companies also try and save money by using the built in Wi-Fi radio that comes standard on the ADSL modem, while others try to save money by reducing the number of strategically placed devices resulting in poor service. Unmanaged and unsecured Wi-Fi networks, where unauthorised users, guests or even authorised users are not rate limited, and are able to hog all the available bandwidth can also be a huge issue.

 

Outdated Equipment

Legacy or outdated equipment is also a big problem. As end users, we are constantly upgrading our smartphones and laptops but then we expect our old wireless equipment to match their performance.

 

Making your Wi-Fi faster

Although the Internet is filled with tips on how to improve or your Wi-Fi signal strength, this is not the best solution. Ironically, boosting your device’s signal may only add to the problem. There are however a few ways in which you can improve your Wi-Fi’s performance:

 

Use a Wi-Fi Analyser

 

 

Download a Wi-Fi Analyser to an Android Smartphone and scan for all the active access points that are in your vicinity. This simple and quick exercise will not only list all the access points in use in your proximity, but will also show you which of the frequency ranges are in use, or more or less prevalent in respect to your location.

After you have completed the scan, set your access point to the least saturated range. If your new access point operates in both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz then repeat the step for both frequency ranges. This exercise is worth doing once a month or if you have noticed any new access points being installed.

 

Select an uncongested channel

In addition to choosing the least conjested channel, there is also one very important technical detail to take in to consideration when selecting a 2.4Ghz channel. The image above shows access points operating on almost all of the availble channels in the frequency. However as per the diagram below, 2.4Ghz channels are overlapped, so it is important to select a channel that is not only uncongested but also not overlapping with another. Unfortunaelty this is limited to 3 channels with 2.4Ghz frequency.

With 2.4Ghz having been around for a while now, it is no surprise that the level of saturation in some offices is so terrible. Luckily newer model access points are now coming out with 5Ghz and AC. Should all your handheld and laptop devices support this frequency, you should select this as the default or preferred frequency.

 

Remotely monitor your Wi-Fi

Many manufacturers also provide free management software that will allow you to remotely monitor and manage your Wi-Fi network and access points. A good example (and our first choice) of this would be the Unifi software from Ubiquiti. Their software is easy to use and allows the administrator to scan for signals, rate limit users and lock down access by applying a number of security and access levels depending on the nature of your business and requirements.

 

Turn down signal on neighbouring routers

One quick-fix solution is to try turning down the signal strength on neighbouring access points that share the same space, as this will improve the quality of the Wi-Fi by stopping devices from jumping between access points contending in the same space.

 

Read the specifications from the manufacturer

Use the manufacturer’s specifications to plan the location and number of access points required in a specific area.

 

In Short

1. Scan for surrounding access points and identify unused or least used ranges

2. Select the best 2.4Ghz channel that does not overlap with other ones

3. Turn down the radio signal as to not compete with neighboring access points

4. Upgrade your hardware to use the latest technology and frequencies

5. Install access points that have management software

6. Switch off 2.4Ghz radio on access points that only service 5Ghz devices

7. Select the best location for your access points

 

Speak to us about our manged Wi-Fi solutions and see how we could save you money and time on your LAN setup. You can contact us on 087 470 000 or at [email protected]

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