Problem of the Week: Understanding Airtime Utilization - Wyebot

Problem of the Week: Understanding Airtime Utilization

June 6, 2019

What do we mean by Airtime Utilization?  Free airtime describes how much time is available on a channel for data transmissions.  Any time a device communicates with another device or an access point (AP) it uses airtime. Airtime Utilization is a per-channel statistic that defines what percentage of the channel is currently being used, and what percentage is therefore free. Airtime usage can come from:

  • Data traffic to and from client devices
  • Interference from WiFi and non-WiFi sources
  • Management overhead from APs and client devices

WiFi is a shared medium, so the Airtime Utilization of a channel impacts all the devices currently connected to that specific channel.  If Airtime Utilization is high, you might receive complaints about low WiFi speeds, or other issues. Since many factors can impact Utilization, it’s important to know what is causing the high usage. To do this, first determine if the high Utilization is periodic or consistent.

Periodic moments of high Utilization can be caused by an influx of devices connecting to the network all at the same time.  This might happen during a conference or presentation when a larger-than-average number of devices crowd the network. Having historical data to monitor these trends is extremely valuable for understanding how to optimize the network design to support these situations.

However, if baseline Utilization is high, that’s a sign of another issue.  It could be caused by a number of factors, including having too many SSIDs advertised; too many APs on the same channel; or non-WiFi interference from a microwave, Bluetooth, or other source.  In order to resolve the issue, you must know what is causing it.

Wyebot’s Wireless Intelligence Platform™ (WIP) provides complete wireless ecosystem visibility, making it possible to easily discern where the issue lies and how it can best be resolved. WIP’s RF Analytics provide detailed information on Airtime Utilization, Non-WiFi Interference, and the Noise Floor (level of background noise). Data includes historical charts. 

Whether Airtime Utilization has been high for months, or whether something happened in the last week, WIP’s client monitoring, RF Analytics, and real-time and historic data analysis provides insight into the health of the entire network, and the platform presents actionable steps for quick resolution.