Culprit #4: Not enough 5GHz radios
You need to be flexible on how you mix 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios in your access points. Newer wireless devices like the latest smartphones, tablets and laptops can connect to either type, while many older devices can only connect to 2.4GHz radios.
This can be a problem in hotels, for example, where 90 per cent of guests’ devices are able to take advantage of the 5GHz spectrum, while a far lower percentage of devices are limited to 2.4GHz only; many networks evenly balance the number of 5GHz and 2.4 GHz radios which makes little sense and results in reduced performance for all.
Remedy: Historically, access points (APs) came in a standard two-radio design one running on 2.4GHz and one using 5GHz. They couldnt be software-defined as needed and you were stuck with many unneeded 2.4GHz until you upgraded the network. This was the method everyone used a decade ago, and unbelievably it’s how many vendors still package their solutions today.
Dont go down this route! Instead, match the percentage of 5GHz radios to the percentage of devices that support it – often 70-90 per cent of the total. Avoid access points rigidly configured with one of each type of radio because youll be paying for far more 2.4GHz radios than you need.
Look instead for multi-state radios that you can configure for either band. Then connect as many devices as possible to the 5GHz band to avoid congestion and take advantage of the 23 channels available on 5GHz, in comparison to just three for 2.4GHz.
Read more about how Britain’s internet habits:
- Branson-backed global internet project secures $500m, but will the costs prove out of this world
- A breakdown of how the average Brit spends time online each day
- British businesses waste 371m on Wi-Fi and roaming costs each year
Culprit #5: Lack of flexibility
Better Wi-Fi technology comes along every few years. But if your network can’t adapt, you’re stuck with an unpleasant choice: either replace the network sooner than expected or settle for slower performance.
Remedy: Choose a Wi-Fi solution that you can upgrade to new standards with a quick and inexpensive software or hardware change – as a starting point, think about opting for APs that are built for modularity and support swappable radio modules.
As technology changes, these APs can easily support newer technology without having to rip them out and replace them with new ones.
A good wireless network does much more than help your users connect and get online. Its become an integral part of your brand, which can stand or fall on the strength of the connectivity you provide. Every other part of your operation might be running perfectly, but if your Wi-Fi fails to deliver it could put all of your hard work in jeopardy.
Perry Correll is principal technologist at Xirrus.