6 Tests That Will Improve Your WiFi Performance Right Now

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | April 7, 2017 | Read Time: 5 mins

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Every business owner and/or IT team wants the wireless experience they provide for their end-users to be reliable and secure.

However, there are two main challenges that can get in your way of accomplishing this goal.

First, wireless is complex to design, and can be just as difficult to maintain. Second, wireless is dynamic, meaning it’s constantly changing. Again, this creates many different types of wifi problems including both wifi performance issues as well as security risks.

After you’ve deployed a wireless solution, what can you do if things aren’t functioning the way you expected them too? What options do you have to analyze, and troubleshoot what’s causing your wifi problems?

To help you better understand what can be done, here’s an overview of six different types of tests that will improve your wifi performance right now.

Passive Site Survey

Also known as the “AP on a stick” survey, this type of analysis calls for a certified wireless engineer to run the test from your physical location.

Once on site at your business, campus, or facility etc. the engineer uses a laptop (but it could be another type of wireless device, a tablet for example) to run specialized site survey software while roaming your building or campus to measure the wireless signal.

This test is passive, which means there is no connectivity taking place, it’s simply measuring RF signal from the AP back to the wireless system.

This type of survey produces a wifi heat map and is used to reveal potential dead spots in coverage or areas of your building or campus that might not have the necessary amount of signal.

Active Site Survey

While a passive site survey is just measuring the wireless signal, an active site survey involves the same process but the wireless device/client in this case is actively connected to the wireless network.

This allows the wireless engineer to measure additional aspects of your WLAN to provide even more insight into your system’s health and functionality. In addition to coverage (signal level) this includes:

  • Latency
  • Throughput
  • And roaming performance

Spectrum Site Survey

Interference is a major concern that can negatively impact the performance of every Wi-Fi network. A spectrum site survey is a test that can be run by itself or alongside both passive and active site surveys.

The spectrum survey will allow a Wi-Fi engineer to detect the RF spectrum in use and what sources, if any, that exist on your environment that are causing interference.

This helps both during the WLAN design and wifi planning stages as well as after deployment.

Learn more about the Wi-Fi engineering process by watching the quick video below:

WLAN Assessment

A WLAN assessment is typically utilized in an effort to provide an overview of the wireless system and to get an understanding of its health and functionality. This type of test looks a lot deeper into your WLAN system than a singular passive, active or spectrum site survey does.

A wireless LAN assessment is a comprehensive approach that is used in combination with various other wireless site surveys to review the configuration of your wireless system to gain a detailed understanding of why you’re experiencing wifi performance problems.

WLAN Performance Assessment (Application Performance Testing)

The performance assessment, also known as application performance testing, is a test that offers a unique perspective of how your wireless system is operating.

This type of test measures the wireless performance from the client device’s point of view. By using client devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, scanners, printers, point of salesystems, RF guns etc.) that are the actual types of devices being used in the environment or at your business, the results the test provides are a more accurate representation of how they perform on the network.

This is in opposition to performing tests with laptops or taking measurements from the infrastructure components that have a slightly skewed perspective of the WLAN.

Here’s how it works.

WiFi performance testing takes a selection of representative devices that are set-up as test clients (devices). An application server is then also set-up and connected to the core of your Wi-Fi network that operates as an endpoint to test the clients against.

A wireless engineer will then test the devices and applications throughout your business, campus, facility etc. conducting a variety of tests. These tests range from:

  • TCP & UDP download and upload
  • Simulating streaming video
  • Simulating Voice Calls
  • Simulating various mission-critical and recreational apps
  • Measuring RF signal

Proactive Testing through a Network Management System

If you’re a subscriber of our blog, then you know we’ve been saying for quite some time that wireless is alive.

If you’re new (welcome and thanks for stopping by) what we mean by this is that wireless is inherently dynamic; constantly changing day after day, minute by minute.

From the devices and applications running on your network to the infrastructure components that make up your network to the physical environment (new buildings, renovations) and even the ever-evolving types of security threats, everything changes.

This can make it very challenging for IT and/or business owners to troubleshoot wifi problems quickly and effectively.

With a network management system in place you’ll be able to do just that. Through live monitoring and real-time visibility into the right parts of your network and into the quality of your end-user’s experience and NMS solution gives you the tools you need to lower the cost of managing your wireless system and even helps prevent problems before they start.

This is where our final test comes into play, granted you need the right network management platform in place to run this test.

This type of test allows you to analyze different parts of your current network by simulating what your end-users are experiencing, similar to application performance testing.

The best part is you can schedule these tests out and even run simulations on new parts of your network before they go live to you end-users, meaning you can be proactive in delivering a reliable wireless experience.

Next Steps

Improving the performance of your Wi-Fi network after deployment, while not an ideal situation (rather get it right from the start), is a very manageable process as these tests have shown.

However, the key is partnering with the right wireless service provider to oversee and run these tests.

Wireless is very complex and it requires the right amount of experience in combination with a variety of certifications to analyze, design, deploy and support it, so make sure you do your homework and choose wisely.

At SecurEdge, we provide the platform to simplify networking and deliver a reliable, robust, and secure wireless system-–it’s all we do. If you have any questions or would like to discuss an upcoming project,please contact us here.

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