WiFi Mistakes in Configuration that Lead to Poor WiFi Performance and Lost Productivity
Don’t make these Common Wifi Mistakes in your business!
In the modern workspace, seamless Wi-Fi connectivity is not just a convenience; it’s a necessity. With an increasing reliance on cloud services, video conferencing, and mobile devices, a robust Wi-Fi network is vital for maintaining productivity. Common configuration errors, however, can severely impact Wi-Fi performance. This article will explore these mistakes and provide guidance on how to avoid them.
Ignoring the Wi-Fi Site Survey
One of the fundamental mistakes in Wi-Fi setup is bypassing a professional Wi-Fi site survey. This step is crucial in understanding the specific requirements of the area, including the layout, construction materials, and potential interference sources. A survey helps in placing access points (APs) strategically to ensure optimal coverage and signal strength.
Inadequate Access Point Placement
Improper placement of APs can create dead zones. APs should be distributed to cover the entire area effectively, taking into consideration obstacles like walls and large metal objects that can impede signal. Avoid placing APs in corners or closets, as this can limit their effective range. Wi-Fi signal coverage can be enhanced by the use of appropriate antennas which provide alternative footprints for challenging areas such as long corridors or open plan low ceiling environments.
Overlooking Channel Interference
Wi-Fi Access Points are assigned a subset of the available frequencies in each band called ‘channels’. Each Wi-Fi access point is hence assigned a channel over which it transmits and receives data. The are a finite number of ‘non-overlapping’ channels in each band. It should be noted that the 2.4 GHz band has only 3 ‘non-overlapping radio channels. This allows deployment of 3 access points in the same zone. Adding a fourth into this zone will require one of the three channels to be re-used which will result in ‘Co-Channel Interference’ of the two access points assigned the same channel if their coverage cells overlap. This will compromise the performance of Wi-Fi devices connected any access points assigned the same channel if their coverage cells overlap.
The 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands are less prone to ‘Co-Channel Interference’ due to offering many more ‘non-overlapping channels’. This can still be an issue, however, if taking advantage of a feature called ‘Channel Bonding’ where adjacent channels are bonded together to make a larger channel and hence boost the data throughput speed. This carries the threat of halving the available ‘non-overlapping’ channels which increases the risk of running out of free channels. The outcome is ‘Co-Channel Interference’.
Failing to Plan for Capacity
As businesses grow, so do their Wi-Fi needs. A common mistake is not planning for increased capacity. This can lead to overloaded networks as more devices connect. Regularly assessing and upgrading network capacity is crucial for maintaining optimal performance.
Overreliance on Default Settings
Default configurations are rarely suitable for every environment. Customizing settings to fit specific needs is crucial. This includes adjusting power settings, enabling or disabling specific features, and configuring network names.
Ignoring Physical Environment Changes
Changes in the physical environment, such as new office layouts or additional electronic equipment, can impact Wi-Fi performance. Regular network assessments are necessary to ensure that the Wi-Fi setup remains optimal despite these changes.
Neglecting Firmware Updates
Failing to update the firmware of your Wi-Fi access points can expose the network to vulnerabilities and prevent it from operating optimally. Regular firmware updates ensure that security features are up-to-date and that the device is functioning at its best.
Overlooking Security Settings
Weak security settings can leave a network vulnerable to unauthorized access and attacks. Using outdated security protocols like WEP, or not setting a strong password, can compromise network integrity. It is essential to use the latest security standards like WPA3 and to change default passwords.
Ignoring Client Capabilities
Not all devices have the same Wi-Fi capabilities. Configuring the network only for the latest standards can alienate older devices. Conversely, catering only to older standards can limit performance. A balanced approach that accommodates a range of devices is key.
Inadequate bandwidth allocation can lead to bottlenecks, especially in networks with heavy data usage. Quality of Service (QoS) settings can help prioritize traffic, ensuring that critical applications like video conferencing have the necessary bandwidth.
Wi-Fi is the backbone of modern business operations, and its performance is directly tied to productivity. By avoiding these common configuration mistakes, businesses can ensure a robust and efficient Wi-Fi network. Regular assessments, updates, and customizations are key to maintaining optimal performance and security. Investing time and resources in proper Wi-Fi configuration can lead to significant improvements in productivity and overall business operations.