How to Get the Most Reliable Next-Generation WiFi Network on a Budget
More isn’t always better. More data, more money, more technology – this isn’t an IT department’s focus when it comes to designing and maintaining reliable WiFi networks. Instead, the focus is on the right data and the right technology for the right price tag.
Here’s where to focus time, energy, and budget for a reliable next-generation WiFi network that will support all business needs and promote operational efficiency without breaking the bank.
First, network design and strategic priorities must match
Decision makers need to touch base and ensure that the network being designed will support all strategic priorities.
Businesses run on technology, and technology frequently runs on WiFi. It’s important to understand exactly what processes and priorities the WiFi must support when designing a network. For example:
- How many devices will be on the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz networks?
- Where will the highest concentration of devices exist?
- How often will bandwidth-intensive services, like video streaming, be used?
- How many devices will be on a company’s main network?
- How many devices are expected on a guest network?
With this information in hand, WiFi network designers know which technologies to target and which aren’t needed. This will help save money. Once a site survey is complete – necessary to design a network that avoids possible interference – IT can trust they have a network that not only looks good on paper, but also meets user needs.
Second, consistent analytics minimize issues
Identifying issues before they negatively impact the user experience and business productivity will go a long way to keeping a WiFi network on budget. There’s a few ways to do this.
- Proactively analyze the entire radio frequency environment 24/7: No problem can be resolved if it isn’t first identified. There shouldn’t be a single piece of the network that is unknown. This includes backend and frontend infrastructure, connected devices, and WiFi and non-WiFi sources of interference like nearby networks and Bluetooth devices. Analytics should be gathered throughout the day, whether or not users are onsite.
- Use AI-powered automatic alerts to save time: Analytics are an important first step, but an analytics platform that can recognize issues and automatically alert IT provides greater support and efficiency. Platforms powered by AI can learn to recognize normal and abnormal network behavior, and then alert IT whenever there are issues.
- Consistently review end user metrics to analyze performance: The most important thing is knowing how the WiFi network is responding to user requests. Work with a telemetry solution to automatically collect end user data from devices, apps, servers, and the WiFi network. This gives IT real time insight, straight from the source, so they know exactly what users are experiencing and why.
- Schedule network tests to solve problems before users complain: Scheduling network tests to run throughout the day allows IT to be alerted to issues as soon as they occur. This means that teams can solve problems quickly, often before end users are affected.
Third, make sure that future-proofing your network is built into all designs
The one true thing about all WiFi network ecosystems is that they are going to change over time. As new technologies come onboard, upgrading can get expensive. To minimize costs, decision makers need to know exactly what needs to be upgraded and what doesn’t.
They need answers to questions such as:
- What are the existing capabilities of all devices and infrastructure?
- What are the performance levels of existing systems?
- How has WiFi network behavior changed over the last year?
For example, before a company decides to upgrade to WiFi 6, they need to have analytics that give insight into current network performance and utilization, and must know how network utilization has changed over time, how many current devices are WiFi 6-capable and how many will have to be upgraded, the maximum data rate of existing infrastructure, and more.
How does a company proactively future-proof a network to minimize costs during these times of change? By including historical automated analytics and vendor agnostic solutions into WiFi network designs.
- Historical automated analytics ensure that IT has access to long-term performance and behavior trends. This gives administrators insight into business needs that might not otherwise be noticeable. For example, if infrastructure has been slowly degrading, but still meeting performance benchmarks, solutions that only work with real-time analytics won’t flag the issue. This means that decision makers might wait too long to upgrade, thereby affecting the user experience. Conversely, they could also make the decision to upgrade early, spending money that didn’t need to be spent.
In our WiFi 6 example above, historical analytics will tell administrators how network utilization has changed over time and will identify high-density usage areas. This tells administrators how necessary WiFi 6 technology is and where it will have the most impact.
Working with an automated solution, rather than requiring IT to manually save analytics throughout the year, saves teams time.
- Vendor agnostic solutions provide further future-proofing because they continue working no matter how technologies change around them. If these are analytics and testing solutions, this means that IT has consistent access to analytics both before and after technology changes. This allows teams to more accurately judge the effect of changes. As a bonus, vendor agnostic solutions also keep training times low. Once trained, IT is good to go for the lifetime of the solution.
WiFi network technologies worth the investment
In summary, creating a reliable, on-budget, next-generation WiFi network depends on network analytics that are:
- Powered by AI technology
- Vendor agnostic
With this support, IT administrators know exactly how their WiFi network is performing, what specific upgrades it needs to remain optimized, and how it responds to upgrades and updates. This saves companies time and money by removing the mystery from network operations and by supporting IT with faster, more reliable problem-solving insights. It becomes easier to define budgets and allocate resources that will accurately meet a company’s unique needs.
Companies can invest in multiple solutions that provide the capabilities discussed in this post, or can invest in an all-in-one WiFi automation solution like the Wireless Intelligence Platform™. It delivers:
- 90% faster Mean-Time-to-Resolution
- 70% fewer WiFi problem tickets
- 80% fewer remote site visits
Learn more by scheduling a free demo or trial today.