Optimizing Your Enterprise Wireless Network: 5 WLAN Design Strategies

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | November 18, 2016 | Read Time: 4 mins

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At almost every business or organization today, delivering reliable Wi-Fi has become an expected part of the user experience. Unfortunately for many of them, hearing employees or guests say, "Why is the Wi-Fi so slow?" happens way to often for it to be an outlier. In some cases, connecting to the WLAN is so bad that it doesn't even work at all.

Whether it's a hospital, a college or university, large warehouse, or even a hotel, the whole point of having a reliable, high-performance enterpirse wireless network is to help your end-users be more productive.

Below are 5 tips that will optimize your wireless network design to increase reliability and performance.

Recognizing who your end-users are

From guests, employees, patients, students, faculty, or customers it's essential that you have a clear picture of who is accessing your network.

Each one of your end-users requires different resources and is using your network for different reasons.

It's all about giving everyone exactly what they need, nothing more and nothing less.

However, you have to be able to first, see everyone on your network and second, have the ability to establish access policies or conditions on how you will handle each type of end-user.

Implementing strategies like role-based access control will allow you to do just that, creating an experience for everyone that is not only safe, but also aligned to the experience each specific user needs.

Prioritizing applications

There are typically, two different types of applications on your network, entertainment or recreational applications (Netflix, SnapChat) and mission-critical applications (email, inventory management, on-line testing, to name a few).

All of these applications require differing amounts of resources from your network to run properly and consistently. In order to avoid having recreational applications slow-down or worse prevent your mission-critical applications from accessing the network you need to set priority levels based on pre-determined polices for each different application.

Different devices have different needs

Not only do you have to deal with the increasing numbers of devices accessing your network but the increasing variety as well.

There are different chip-sets, different operating systems, different power requirements, and somehow you have to seamlessly support them all.

Optimizing your wireless network design for mobile is a technical process but it's a required feature for every large-scale wireless network today.

Most importantly, just like your users and your applications you have to know exactly what types of devices will be accessing your network. Only then can you make tactical design decisions.

Pro-Tip* - Always say that your RF design should be based on the lowest-powered devices on your network (typically smartphones). 

Don't forget about capacity

Greater demand usually means more supply, remember simple college economics? You want to make sure you not only have enough access points, but that they're placed appropriately around your campus, hospital, or business environment.

Some areas may have a higher concentration of users while others have less and this should be considered when you design your wireless network solution.

Coverage was great in the past but now you need also need to include capacity to drive the necessary results. Context is what helps drive a proper capacity design, you have to understand four things:

  • Your Physical Environment
  • Your Devices
  • Your Applications
  • Your End-Users

Here's a great video from Senior Network Engineer, Michael McNamee about the importance of incorporating capacity into your WLAN design.

You need to know the current state of your wireless network

Nothing impacts performance or reliability more than your wireless network design. Whether you're starting from new, updating your existing network, or just trying to add new devices or applications, your success will come down to the condition of your design.

How old is your current wireless network design? Is it the correct design to properly support what you're trying to accomplish? Did you complete a wireless assessment or predictive RF site survey? What kind of predictive RF software was used to complete the site survey? Did you involve the right people (IT staff, experienced wireless engineering teams or wireless service providers)?

These are all critical questions to make sure you not only understand where you are but also to make sure you're heading in the right direction.

Some closing thoughts

I know that wireless for most businesses and organizations is just one small part of the overall IT landscape, however, it's importance to your operations and the well-being of your end-users has never been higher.

It's true, large-scale wireless networks are not cheap, and budgets to upgrade are generally on the "limited" size. So it's safe to say you can't afford to get it wrong.

To get the most out of your WLAN you need to work with an experienced partner who will support you throughout the entire Wi-Fi engineering process and continue to support you after it's been deployed and installed.

At SecurEdge, we deliver affordable, robust, and secure wireless platforms – it’s all we do. If you have any questions about wireless network design or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.

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