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Making the Most of Your APs

Making the Most of Your APs

Wi-Fi networks are absolutely everywhere, so it may seem as though the technology behind it ought to be child’s play. Indeed, parts of it are relatively straightforward. Other parts, not so much.

On the whole, business Wi-Fi setup requires professional guidance to be done right. That’s partly because, in a commercial space, effective Wi-Fi coverage involves many parts. For example, consider the component to which wireless devices connect: the wireless access point (AP).

Why Wireless Access Points?

These aren’t, of course, wired connections, which may seem passé nowadays. Don’t write them off, though; wired connections for staff computers have their advantages.

But today’s network access points must provide wireless connections, and for important reasons.

The first of these reasons is the sheer convenience of not having to stay in one physical place in a building to stay online. Also, nobody has to carry dongles should their devices not be endowed with Ethernet ports. On many networks, the number of devices NOT equipped with Ethernet ports (like smartphones and tablets) often outnumber devices that still feature wired connection capabilities.

What interferes with Wi-Fi signals

Various types of objects found inside buildings interfere with the radio signals exchanged between wireless devices and access points. Some of the most common obstacles are:

Building materials

Wood, drywall, metal, bricks, mortar, even glass are among the stationary physical objects that Wi-Fi signals have difficulty penetrating. Even when they get through, signals are diminished in strength on the other side of the object.

People

Organizations strive to create physical spaces that staff and guests alike find welcoming. However, the human body also obstructs Wi-Fi signals. The more people found in a given site, the more difficulty Wi-Fi signals encounter.

Nearby Wi-Fi networks

Devices connected to a given Wi-Fi network may get “confused” when they come in range of access points for adjacent networks. This is an admittedly low-tech explanation of why wireless connections may sputter at the edges of a network.

Setting up wireless access points

Constraints like the ones mentioned above must be taken into account when deploying and configuring access points. Consider these tips for handling these constraints successfully and delivering a positive Wi-Fi experience for everybody in an organization’s physical space.

Place access points correctly

Where do people use Wi-Fi the most in a given space? That spot is not necessarily the one that seems obvious to one’s intuition.

For example, if patrons tend to congregate at a bar near one side of a wide restaurant, access points for a guest Wi-Fi network should be concentrated over the bar.

Choose the right wireless access points

Not every access point is appropriate for every application.

For example, controllers enable IT professionals to configure access points. While controllers may reside within an access point, more sophisticated external controllers can connect to multiple access points. Such controllers – and connections – make sense in large spaces. With external controllers running multiple APs, configuration and troubleshooting are more straightforward.

If you offer Wi-Fi outdoors or in cold environments, ensure you choose access points designed to withstand the conditions in which they will reside.

Choose the right channels for each access point

When deploying multiple access points, their coverage areas may overlap. If they do, APs ought to use non-overlapping channels. Otherwise, signals from one AP may interfere with signals from its neighbor. When that happens, network connectivity can suffer.

Check power settings

An access point’s coverage area is determined, in part, by its power settings. When properly tuned, the AP does not overlap excessively with other coverage areas.

Many controllers set power automatically, but a technician might be needed to tune an AP’s power setting properly.

In Summation…

When it comes to effectively deploying wireless access points, the obstacles and tips provided above barely scratch the surface.

Also, consider that business networks consist of more than just wireless access points. There’s:

  • cabling (both network and power)
  • connections to service providers
  • keeping unauthorized users out of wireless networks meant for staff
  • creating the right network experience for both staff and guests (yes, they’re different)
  • and a plethora of other considerations.

Most importantly, network setup differs for each place of business, thanks to the multitude of differences in the buildings that house them. Walls, plumbing, electrical conduit and other materials reside in different places, so there is no “template” solution for every location requiring Wi-Fi.

Do you want to make the most of your Wi-Fi access points? Talk to a Datavalet expert today.