WiFi technology is lightyears beyond where it was when it first entered the market. There are now entire offices that solely use WiFi for network connectivity, and it’s practically unheard of for WiFi not to at least be an option.
However, all this new technology isn’t pain free. Here are the four top WiFi network issues experienced by the enterprise, healthcare, and education industries, and tips for how to solve them with WiFi Automation.
The Dynamic Nature of WiFi
The WiFi network is a living and breathing ecosystem. In this sense, it is completely different from the structured, wired world of old. When it comes to WiFi, you have to expect the network to be constantly changing. It operates in a shared medium – the airspace – and will be affected by everything from what applications are running, what technology is in use, where people are sitting, and even building construction. Did a new company just move into the floor above you? It could have an affect on your WiFi. Did you just install new IoT security cameras? Check the WiFi. Applications update an hour ago? How’s the WiFi doing?
Even if everything else could be static, your employees can’t. They are going to move around the office, taking their devices with them, and that is going to affect the WiFi. Even if they don’t have laptops and tablets, they likely do have smartphones, smart watches, and other personal devices. These smaller WiFi devices impact the network just like larger ones.
To stay ahead, you need an intelligent platform that can monitor the hundreds or thousands of changes that occur every minute in real-time, automatically alert IT to issues, and support proactive resolutions.
This comes from a WiFi Automation platform with Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Powered by AI, these platforms can monitor the network 24/7 and learn to recognize normal behavior. When that behavior changes, the platform automatically alerts IT. Depending on the platform, the alert can include the root cause identification of the issue and actionable steps for resolution. This proactive approach allows IT to resolve the issue before end users are impacted.
Proactive forecasts and analytics are superior to reactive in every other area of business. It’s time to bring these measures to your WiFi network.
While video meetings and calls existed pre-pandemic, over the last year their use has accelerated across the board as so many turned to working remotely. Now that all industries have had time to get used to this technology and experience its convenience, general market sentiment is that this trend will continue.
However, all these video calls do put additional demand on the network, and when that demand causes issues, there’s no hiding them. For example, if a file takes three extra seconds to download, we might not even notice. What if a video call freezes though, or there’s a delay in joining the call, or an audio delay throughout the call? Even if the delay is only seconds, you and everyone else on the call notice. Delays and interference are suddenly a much more strongly felt pain point.
Avoiding these issues takes a two-pronged approach. You must:
- Be aware of the network requirements necessary to support increased video collaboration; and
- Continuously monitor the network so that any issues can be resolved proactively.
Let’s take a look at the first step.
What are your video needs? Be as specific as possible. How many employees will use video collaboration and how often will the technology be used? Do calls need to support five participants or 100? What platforms are you most likely to use?
Now use that information to determine your network requirements. Do you have the necessary bandwidth or is your network overcrowded as it is? Can your infrastructure transmit data at the required rate?
To discover the current performance of your network, use automated network tests. You’ll want to use a testing platform that allows for tests to be scheduled to run consistently for the best insights. The platform should also automatically alert IT to any failed tests. If you haven’t been running continuous tests, work with the platform for about one month. Then, use the collected data to determine a baseline for your network’s performance. Compare that to how the network performs at peak times. Can the network, across the board, support WiFi video collaboration?
If the answer is yes, that’s great! If it’s no, that’s okay. You now have the data that you need to upgrade your network so that it will support video. That also brings us to our second step: continuous monitoring. Remember that the network is dynamic. Even if its current design supports video calls, continue to monitor it and run tests so that when things change, as they inevitably will, IT has the data needed to adjust and optimize in real-time.
You’ll also want to make sure that whatever WiFi Automation platform you use allows for remote troubleshooting and monitoring. IT can’t always be onsite. It is absolutely necessary that they be able to optimize the network from any location.
The Explosion of Devices
The number of WiFi devices, or connected devices as you might hear them called, in any building is pretty incredible. Each employee can have at least three personal devices, and then there’s building and industry specific devices. A few examples include:
- Security cameras
- Smart assistants
- Medical equipment
- Manufacturing sensors
All these devices present an increased security risk to the WiFi network. Businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities need to know how these devices are impacting the network, and if every device should be on the network.
There’s a few different ways that an Automation platform can be of service:
- Security monitoring: some platforms will automatically detect rogue APs and clients and provide alert notifications. Platforms can also detect network vulnerabilities such as open ports.
- 24/7 monitoring: because platforms don’t require breaks, they can watch the network at all times and provide updated data for metrics like available bandwidth; with AI support, they can also proactively identify issues and alert IT.
- Historical analytics: identify health and performance trends over time with historical data on access points (APs), client distribution, WiFi and non-WiFi interference, and more. With this data, IT and administrators can make the best decisions on how to upgrade the network for future optimization.
The Unlicensed Spectrum
The WiFi spectrum is unlicensed. This means that anyone can develop a product that operates on the WiFi, even if they are not a WiFi expert. Why does this matter? You have new devices entering the market every day. These devices are specialized by developers and designers who have core expertise in areas like sanitization, personal health, business tools, architectural design, and so much more. The value offered by these products can be immense, but many times the products weren’t designed with the complexities of WiFi in mind. This means that, once devices connect to a WiFi network, there can be a number of connectivity and interoperability issues.
The only way to resolve these issues is with 100% visibility into the entire WiFi network ecosystem. No issue can be resolved until the root cause is identified, and the root cause can’t be identified if IT is missing information. Work with an Automation platform that monitors the entire ecosystem 24/7. This includes monitoring the RF airspace, which is the name given to the environment in which the WiFi operates. This airspace is where signals are sent from device to device. Monitoring it allows IT to know what is happening on the network at the packet level.
This is also where network testing comes into play. Ideally, your Automation platform will be able to connect to the network as if it’s a client device. This allows IT to view results knowing that they are exactly what end users are experiencing.
The Wireless Intelligence Platform
The award-winning Wireless Intelligence Platform (WIP) is a WiFi Automation platform that can be up and running in 5 minutes. It delivers:
- Automatic actionable intelligence
- Support for WiFi 6 technology
- A suite of network tests that run over wired and wireless networks
- Remote diagnostics and troubleshooting
- Historical device forensics
- Automatic classification of all detected APs as Mine, Known, Unknown, or Unauthorized
- Complete WiFi ecosystem visibility
Businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities that use WIP see:
- 90% faster Mean Time to Resolutions for all troubleshooting
- 60% decrease in WiFi problem tickets
- 80% of remote site visits reduced
WIP is also vendor agnostic, which means it will seamlessly integrate with existing network infrastructure and continue working even if WiFi and AP vendors change. If you want to eliminate WiFi worries and streamline all network performance, start working with WIP today.