November 04, 2010, 9:40 PM — AirMagnet is releasing updates to two of its main Wi-Fi network management tools. Wi-Fi Analyzer now can explore delve deeper into roaming problems. And Survey can now run passive and active Wi-Fi scans at the same time.
The key to both changes is what AirMagnet calls "multi-adapter support." Basically, these laptop applications can now pull network data from two or three Wi-Fi adapters plugged into the laptop and active at the same time. That means both faster and more in-depth RF scans are possible, according to company executives.
In the past, the applications relied on a single Wi-Fi adapter. That meant Wi-Fi Analyzer could scan only one channel at a time, and could miss frames on a different channel, says Dilip Advani, product manager for AirMagnet Mobile Solutions. AirMagnet was bought by Fluke Networks in 2009. By supporting three radios at once, Analyzer can monitor simultaneously the three non-overlapping Wi-Fi channels, which are most commonly used in enterprise deployments.
According to Advani, AirMagnet's analysis of enterprise Wi-Fi problems shows that most of them are related to "inefficient roaming" -- a wireless client associated with an access point picks up signals from one or more other access points and "decides" to drop the first connection in favor of another. But the new connection may, in fact, be a worse choice, due to interference, the presence of both data and voice traffic, and so on. "Sometimes, the decision to roam may not be the best decision for that client," Advani says.
In the past, he says, AirMagnet and its rivals showed little more than the fact that a roam had take place.
But Wi-Fi Analyzer 9.0 can use up to three Wi-Fi adapters to collect and analyze a lot of new data about each of these "roaming events." (Wi-Fi Analyzer is a spectrum analyzer program that can test and diagnose a wide range of wireless performance issues dealing with throughput, connectivity, device conflicts and multipath problems. See our 2009 Clear Choice Test of rival analysis products, including AirMagnet: "Analyze this: Low-cost wireless spectrum analyzers do the trick".)