How to set up a business-grade Wi-Fi network

By Paul Mah, CIO |  Mobile & Wireless, wifi

It should be noted that most Wi-Fi clients still do not work on the 5GHz band. While the iPad 2 and new iPad will work on a 5GHz network, lower-end tablets such as the Amazon Fire and Google Nexus 7 will connect on only the 2.4GHz band. Similarly, most smartphones are 2.4GHz only.

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In recognition of the uneven support for 5GHz Wi-Fi, some APs can be configured to backhaul data over the 5GHz frequency band, serving wireless clients on the 2.4GHz band. This is particularly useful for bolstering weak wireless reception at locations that wired cabling cannot easily reach. Moreover, it is possible to set up a hybrid environment where both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios are simultaneously in use. Devices that support 5GHz can be directed to connect on this frequency band to reduce congestion on the more crowded 2.4GHz band.

Pay Attention to Density of Access Points

As outlined in the previous section, upping the number of APs could increase the amount of interference being generated, reducing overall responsiveness and throughput. Indeed, a large number of APs deployed in a haphazard manner can actually reduce the number of devices a wireless network can supported. Yet with each worker carrying as many as three Wi-Fi capable devices (e.g., a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone) IT departments should expect the number of such devices to increase, if not skyrocket.

Careful positioning and configuration is thus required to deploy a high density of APs to properly support a large number of wireless clients. Brands such as Xirrus offers a high density of APs by ditching omnidirectional antennas in favor of directional ones, and by packing up to 16 of them in one enclosure with each antenna facing out.

Implement Strong Management, Security Mechanisms

Management and security of Wi-Fi networks is another aspect that businesses need to consider. Attempting to configure multiple APs individually in a business environment is not only highly inefficient; it's also prone to errors.

As you can imagine, a well-designed management system plays an important role when dealing with more than a handful of APs. In addition, the evolving security landscape has increased the importance of built-in security features. Wi-Fi vendors now incorporate security features that, among other things, identify unauthorized networks, defend against spoofing attempts or stymie brute-force attacks. Moreover, the capability to log important system or security events to a syslog server or console is invaluable, making it possible to identify both wireless bottlenecks and security threats.


Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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