Six Baseline KPIs & The WiFi Network Performance Metrics You Need for Improved Business Continuity
No matter what industry you are in, any downtime or lag in WiFi network performance has business repercussions. This is because most business processes depend on the WiFi network. Whether shipping customer orders, communicating with clients and colleagues, billing, testing, designing, or troubleshooting, employees need WiFi.
To ensure WiFi performance is reliable and optimal, IT professionals must monitor and analyze the network constantly. This allows teams to make adjustments quickly whenever there is a need. In this post, we’ll walk through six of the key performance metrics to pay attention to, as well as methods and tools to use for network performance management.
What are network performance metrics?
Network performance metrics are data and analytics that describe how a WiFi network is performing at any given time. IT professionals use these metrics to identify potential and existing errors and improve WiFi performance.
How is network performance evaluated?
Businesses can identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and use them to evaluate network performance. These KPIs are a quantifiable measure of WiFi network performance and enable companies to understand the overall health of the network, which is a critical resource. Identifying and measuring the right KPIs is necessary for WiFi optimization and business continuity.
Six essential WiFi network KPIs to analyze consistently
- Signal strength
- Packet loss and retransmissions
- Bandwidth and throughput
- Network jitter
Uptime measures how often your WiFi service is available, which is why it is also known as WiFi availability. The network should always be available. If it’s down for any reason, business comes to a halt.
This KPI lets you know how strong the WiFi signal is throughout your business space. The better it is, the faster data can transfer throughout the network. Optimal and necessary signal strength – two different metrics – will differ from space to space. They depend on elements such as how many devices are on the network and what network applications need to be used. Data intensive applications, like video conferencing, require higher signal strength than applications like email.
Signal strength is measured in decibel-milliwatts (dBm) and is always negative. -20dBm is a higher signal strength than -50dBm.
Packet loss and retransmissions
Every action or transmission on a WiFi network requires data packets to be sent from Device A to Device B and back again. While some packet loss is to be expected, it’s important to monitor how much loss is happening. Too much will affect application performance and usually signals interference, congestion, or low bandwidth. Different applications will be affected at different levels. For video or voice applications, packet loss of 1-2% would ruin the transmission. However other applications might be fine with packet loss up to 3%.
Retransmissions follow from packet loss – they occur whenever the original data transmission didn’t work. If packets must constantly be retransmitted, this reduces the overall throughput available to a business.
If retransmission rate is high, it likely signals poor signal strength or network interference from other WiFi and non-WiFi technologies like nearby WiFi networks or Bluetooth devices. Across the board employees will experience poor network performance.
Latency is the time it takes for data to transfer from one point to another. It is measured in milliseconds, with 50 milliseconds a general baseline for maximum allowed latency for high-performing applications.
Higher latency results in slow connections. This might present itself as long buffering times for video conferences or presentations, long transmission times for emails, or slow loading applications and web pages.
Bandwidth and throughput
Bandwidth is how much data a WiFi network can optimally transfer. Throughput is how much data is actually transmitted over a certain time period. These KPIs are measured in Kbps, Mbps, or Gbps.
IT professionals measure both in order to see if the network is delivering and performing at its full potential.
Jitter refers to a network’s transfer rate consistency. A jittery network is one that delays in sending packets, which in turn causes high latency. It’s most often associated with video performance problems.
WiFi networks are more prone to jitter than wired networks because of interference issues from other radio sources. Jitter can also be caused by network congestion, physical interference, and other issues.
How to measure and monitor KPIs
Consistency is the key to WiFi performance optimization. IT professionals need to understand precisely what end users are experiencing at all times in order to resolve issues quickly. This takes consistent analytics.
With the six KPIs outlined here, consistency means testing performance multiple times a day, sometimes as often as multiple times an hour. This requires the use of technology. With hundreds or thousands of devices on a network, testing consists of analyzing millions of data packets. IT doesn’t have the capacity to do that in real-time without technological support.
Companies can use WiFi automation platforms to get the insights they need, when they need them. These platforms automate WiFi network optimization. They deliver complete network visibility in real time, automatically and proactively. With their support, companies have access to:
- Real time and historical data and analytics for all KPIs. Real time data is necessary for resolving existing and potential problems before users are affected. Historical data identifies long-term performance trends that need to be addressed to keep networks reliable into the future.
- Real time problem identification. Some WiFi automation platforms will not only identify problems in real time, but will also include root cause identification with all alerts. This allows IT to jump right to implementing a resolution. Faster troubleshooting leads to a reduced number of issues, as well as a reduced duration of any downtime. This improves UX and business continuity.
- Under budget network scaling. Automation platforms can analyze 5000 devices as easily as 50,000. This means that companies can scale their technology as need demands without worrying about scaling their IT team at a commensurate rate. Thanks to the analytics provided by the platform, companies also have better insight into what their networks and users need. Updates and upgrades can then be both personalized and budget-friendly.
For more information on WiFi automation platforms and how they help eliminate WiFi issues, check out the Wireless Intelligence Platform. By correctly and frequently measuring KPIs, you can improve business performance for all users. Get started today.