UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS

  • 11/24/2015
    8:00 AM
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8 Enterprise WiFi Shortcomings

Reliable WiFi is critical in today's enterprise, but the WiFi network can fall short. Here's a look at some of common problems with WiFi connectivity.

Comments

WiFi issues

From a user perspective, I'm pretty familiar with the wonky guest onboarding problem. It's a minor miracle when you can actually succeed in logging on as a guest to a WiFi network.

Re: WiFi issues

@Marcia: And then it's not even worth it because of the vulnerabilities inherent to public and guest WiFi.

Or maybe that's what makes enterprise WiFi so secure; if you're having trouble logging into it, chances are the bad guys are too.  ;)

Re: WiFi issues

One of the first questions that IT or external connectivity consultants should consider is to identify the intended users of the access points. It is a overgeneralization but for instance, banks setup WiFi connectivity for their employees (primary users) and coffee shops setup a WiFi connection for customers (primary users). And, there are gray areas as well, it might not always be easy to identify the primary user without the support of top management of example, universities might want connectivity for their faculty and restrict access to students (because, social media is distractive for students) alternatively, students might be the primary users of the university (because, social media is extremely constructive). 

Re: WiFi issues

@Brian: At universities, it's always something.  Today, it's social media.  In my day, the watchdogs were busy making their systems less accessible for fears of illegal file sharing.  There's always double-secret probation somewhere.

Residential congestion

Andrew: How often would you say WiFi congestion is a consideration in building/designing huge condo and apartment buildings/complexes?  What can be done to alleviate anticipated residential congestion by developers (if anything feasible)?

Li-Fi

Anyone heard of Li-Fi, The benefits of Li-Fi over Wi-Fi, other than potentially much faster speeds, is that because light cannot pass through walls, it makes it a whole lot more secure, and as Anthony Cuthbertson points out at IBTimes UK, this also means there's less interference between devices.

If applications like these and the Velmenni trial in Estonia prove successful, we could achieve the dream outlined by Haas in his 2011 TED talk below - everyone gaining access to the Internet via LED light bulbs in their home.

Source: sciencealert.com

Do read the blog, sounds interesting.

Re: Li-Fi

Of course, IoT is notoriously insecure (especially consumer-side IoT devices), as is networking equipment like routers, so I suspect that Internet access based on lights at home would have serious security issues for a while.

Re: Li-Fi

Scientists have taken Li-Fi out of the lab for the first time, trialling it in offices and industrial environments in Tallinn, Estonia, reporting that they can achieve data transmission at 1 GB per second  that's 100 times faster than current average Wi-Fi speeds.

Re: Li-Fi

That's amazing @aditshar. Look out for a blog about Li-Fi here next month; one of our regular contributors is planning to write about it.

Re: Li-Fi

@Marcia, that is great news as LiFi has a great number of use cases that could improve the efficiency of businesses. Like always, technology is a double edged sword and processes that can be utilized to increase efficiency can also be used to create a LED Incapacitator (a weapon that causes headaches, vomiting, nausea and disorientation, etc.).

Re: Li-Fi

@aditshar: That's fascinating.  Tallinn has become a sort of tech capital in Europe (and their President, as I recall, is or was head of a major EU tech commission).  Great research comes out of there and I like to keep up with tech news from Estonia.

Re: Li-Fi

Well Wifi is not really secure, but there are alternatives right ? 

Re: Li-Fi

You can always go back to a hard broadband wire.  ;)

There's the conundrum of security: it is at odds with accessibility.

Re: Residential congestion

Hey Joe -- I've designed WiFi deployments for a couple residential condos. The best advise I can give is to not go cheap. Today's enterprise-class WiFi is expensive because it has built-in intelligence that can detect signal interference and automatically change channels to move to a less crowded space. My other recommendation is to make sure that you have a high level of signal strength anywhere you think WiFi devices will try to be connecting. Don't try to stretch the signal too far -- otherwise your neighbors WiFI will overpower you.

Lastly, I recommend getting a professional site survey done prior to the install. This helps to figure out the optimal WAP placement throughout the building.  Hope this helps!

 

Re: Residential congestion

Thanks for these insights, Andrew.  Fortunately, with apartment and condo sizes in my neck of the woods (Boston area), you don't typically have to worry about stretching signal strength too far!

Re: Residential congestion

@Andrew, the slide about focusing on dead spots is great as it is easy to assume that users will seek out areas with strong coverage whereas, the opposite should be considered while setting up wireless networks i.e. strong signals should be where the users are located.

I wonder if creating connectivity in an elevator would entail that a non-stationary access point would need to be introduced into the environment.

Re: Residential congestion

Another consideration: Make sure your strongest signals aren't in places where congestion could be a significant problem -- such as major thoroughfares.