Blog | Sticky Clients - Wyebot Wireless Intelligence Platform

Sticky Clients

October 1, 2018

If you’ve been working in the IT world for awhile, you’ve likely encountered so-called “sticky client syndrome.”  A sticky client remains connected to an AP even as the device roams farther and farther away from the AP. Users can get frustrated because their device shows a low signal, even as they may be standing directly underneath an AP.  The device won’t roam to the new AP and the low signal from the original AP causes apps and the Internet work slowly, if at all. Sticky clients can also cause significant performance degradation for other devices, since WiFi is a shared medium and all devices on the channel are competing for airtime.  As the sticky client resorts to using lower data rates and suffers from more retransmissions, all other devices must wait longer to transmit their own data.

There are a few reasons for this behavior.  WiFi chip vendors sell their radios to companies that put them into a variety of products ranging from phones and tablets to light bulbs and thermostats.  The roaming characteristics of these devices varies greatly. An IoT device like a video camera is typically fixed in one location and shouldn’t expect to roam, whereas phones are extremely mobile.  The firmware running on all radios has software algorithms that control roaming behavior. These algorithms can be configured to prize connectivity (however bad) over the disruption caused by roaming.  It’s up to the device manufacturer to tune these algorithms to perform well for the specific device.

While there do exist standards to improve client roaming behavior,  the device is ultimately responsible for determining when to roam and where to connect.  This creates challenging management issues for IT professionals. How do you design a network to best encourage clients to roam?  What can be done to mitigate the sticky client issue?

Wyebot’s Wireless Intelligence Platform ™ (WIP) uses sensors that “listen” to the RF environment.  These sensors capture everything that is happening in real-time. By automatically collecting and analyzing all RF data, WIP evaluates the RF/wireless network when the data still exists as RF/wireless.  This is the only way to gain full visibility into a network and determine whether issues are caused by infrastructure or devices. WIP identifies initial causes at the individual device level, and automatically includes actionable steps for resolution with every reported issue.  This supports IT professionals in delivering more predictable networks, with sticky clients eliminated before they experience, and cause, performance degradation. Furthermore, due to WIP’s AI-engine, fingerprinting and device pattern recognition, possible future issues can be proactively highlighted and resolved before becoming big challenges.

Every device on the network benefits from this rapid mean time to resolution.  Using WIP, the health of the RF environment improves, giving all clients an optimum network experience.