VeriWave captures users' view of Wi-Fi networks

Managing the user's Wi-Fi experience in enterprise wireless LANs is tough, because information about what's happening is hard to come by. VeriWave is introducing a new version of its wireless testing platform to collect and analyze that data.

Analyze this: Low-cost wireless spectrum analyzers do the trick

The WaveDeploy system combines a test application running on a PC or server, and an agent that runs on a laptop or other wireless device. The agents collect a wide range of data about how specific applications, such as VoIP or video or Web surfing, are performing at a given location. The data gets passed along to the WaveDeploy test application where it's processed into a range of reports and "heat map" displays showing areas where performance may be weak.

This kind of information is almost never found in conventional WLAN site survey tools. And spectrum analyzers are limited to the physical layer, so they can't give a detailed user perspective on how applications are actually performing. IT managers are often limited to measuring the radio signal strength 'seen' by the Wi-Fi client (received signal strength indicator or RSSI), a general measure of throughput, and indications of co-channel radio interference.

But WaveDeploy gives network administrators a broad range of measurements that reveal the Wi-Fi experience from the standpoint of its users. With the WaveDeploy Pro edition, administrators can measure several indications of quality including two-way TCP/IP and UDP throughput; Mean Opinion Scores (MOS) for measuriing VoIP quality; video quality via the Media Delivery Index (MDI); packet loss; and roaming.

A separate hardware box, called WaveDeploy Wi-Fi, runs a scale-down version of VeriWave's wireless traffic generator/analyzer software. With the hardware, IT shops can simulate up to 64 "virtual" 802.11 wireless clients, including their applications. Each virtual client can mimic a specific "real" client device, such as laptops, Wi-Fi smartphones or handheld scanners, and different traffic loads characteristic of an office or a hospital, for example. The software generates traffic at specific access points, or groups of them, to measure how these applications actually perform in these locations, and how the WLAN access points react as the number of clients and the amount of data grow.

VeriWave has specialized in large-scale automated wireless testing platforms, typically purchased by RF silicon or equipment vendors. For the past few years, the company has been extending RF testing information and capabilities into the enterprise IT market, including video over wireless.  

A site can load the WaveDeploy agent on to several clients, such as different laptop computers or Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, load them on a cart and wheel them throughout a building to measure performance with a WLAN infrastructure. Adding the WaveDeploy Wi-Fi unit to the cart enables an IT manager to generate voice, video and data traffic for load testing a larger number of clients and applications at each location.

All the data is captured and stored, and then analyzed and displayed by the WaveDeploy test application. Throughput or MOS data can be shown as color-coded areas on a building's floor plan.

WaveDeploy is available now in three editions. WaveDeploy Basic is a free download from that handles three basic measurements (TCP/IP downloads, RSSI, and co-channel interference) for one client device. There are no automatically created reports.

WaveDeploy Pro, which starts at $5,000, adds a bundle of additional measures, for up to 10 client devices in a single test, with automatic report generation. WaveDeploy Expert includes the WaveDeploy Wi-Fi traffic generator unit and WaveDeploy Ethernet for wireline measurements. This edition will be available later this summer; price has not yet been announced.

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This story, "VeriWave captures users' view of Wi-Fi networks" was originally published by Network World.

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