The Wi-Fi Lifecycle: How to Boost Wireless Performance at Every Stage

Managing a wireless network is a non-stop task. A wireless network is a lifecycle – It is constantly moving through the processes, and every stage gives you the chance to troubleshoot and optimise your Wi-Fi.

What is the Wi-Fi Lifecycle?

If you are responsible for deploying a Wi-Fi network and then doing the ongoing management, then you will likely be familiar with the stages you see throughout this process. It starts with the wireless network design, and then continuing maintenance, optimisation and troubleshooting, which can lead you back to those design stages. To ensure that your wireless network reliably performs at its optimum levels, you need to understand these stages and equip yourselves with the right tools.

Let’s have a look at each stage of the Wi-Fi Cycle.

Wi-Fi Design

First up, it’s design. Do not skip this step. It’s so important for your wireless network to carry out surveys and design according to the results. You likely won’t get a high-performing, reliable Wi-Fi network without doing this stage properly!

Designing your wireless network gives you the opportunity to translate the Wi-Fi needs of your business (or home) in a way that meets or exceeds all of your requirements. Do not just deploy and hope for the best – Wi-Fi is a vital first stage in any wireless network deployment.

If you’re not sure where to start, then get in touch with us here at Geekabit. Our Wi-Fi experts have all the knowledge needed to carry out a Wi-Fi survey and use the information identified to design a high-performance wireless network that provides reliable Wi-Fi for your business-critical applications. For more information on Wi-Fi surveys and what they entail, you might like to read this blog.

Network Validation

Once you’ve got your Wi-Fi network designed, taking things into consideration like walls, end user requirements, positioning, high footfall areas etc you need to validate it. The aim of this stage is to make sure that your Wi-Fi design behaves in the way you have predicted it to.

Using AP on a Stick technology, you can test out the locations for access points in your design and make sure that things like capacity and coverage are what you expected. This stage is also a bit of a safety net to catch any possible sources of interferences that didn’t pop up in your survey or design stage, for example differences in wall materials.

This stage is also vital if you want to make sure your network will be successful before complete deployment, saving you valuable time (and money) later on fixing problems. If you’re having to run new cabling, you really want to make sure that all your access points and antenna are in the best locations first.

You may find yourself returning to this stage multiple times. Perhaps you identify some potential issues with access point placing which sends you back to the design stage. You’ll find yourself re-validating those changes. Remember, this is a constant process and you will go through the Wi-Fi lifecycle time and again.

You don’t just validate post-design – You will also need to validate your network following its deployment. But hopefully, having done an initial design and validation stage, you will find your network running at its optimum performance for your end users.

Wi-Fi Optimisation

So you’ve designed your network, validated it and went ahead with deployment. Surely that’s it done? We’re afraid not! Even if your network seems to be working well and providing reliable Wi-Fi to your users, it’s something that needs constant monitoring and maintenance in order to optimise the Wi-Fi your business provides.

This isn’t a quick process or ‘box-ticked-next’ sort of stage. Continuously monitoring and tweaking your Wi-Fi network allows your to react in a timely manner to any changes. Perhaps you have an increase in staff members, or a rise in multiple device usage. Maybe there are physical changes made to the building, a reshuffle of office layout or a warehouse with wildly fluctuating inventory.

The Wi-Fi Optimsation stage allows for proactive wireless network improvements to be made for any known impending changes. Constant monitoring also enables a reactive approach to any adjustments that need to be made due to reported issues from end users.

Carrying out regular RF surveys of your Wi-Fi network will provide you with data that becomes invaluable when it comes to making adjustments and troubleshooting issues.

There may be times when a change of requirements is too large for just a few tweaks here and there, which will send you back to the design stage in order to create a new deployment.

Network Troubleshooting

No one wants Wi-Fi woes in their office if they can help it. Disgruntled employees that are complaining of slow Wi-Fi aren’t just demotivated and unproductive – They may not even be able to carry out business-critical tasks. If your business depends on reliable Wi-Fi, then you need to make sure your wireless network meets requirements by following the stages mentioned above.

But unfortunately, there will be times when issues slip through the net. Troubleshooting is probably the most stressful stage of the Wi-Fi Lifecycle. Everyone knows how frustrating it is to have dodgy Wi-Fi, and nobody wants to be on the receiving end of those complaints.

Thankfully, with the right tools you can keep these incidences to a minimum, ensure swift implementation of fixes and get straight back to the optimisation stage. Spectrum analysers are a big help during the troubleshooting process by helping identify Wi-Fi strength and interference.

 

Wi-Fi Design – Yes, we’ve gone full circle!

The nature of wireless networks is everchanging. Requirements change fairly regularly with the needs of the business. Sometimes these will be small, quick fixes and sometimes they will require complete re-design and deployment right from the beginning of the Wi-Fi lifecycle.

Luckily for you, you now know the process – Wi-Fi Design, Wi-Fi Validation, Network Optimisation and Troubleshooting.

 

Whichever stage your wireless network is currently in, Geekabit can help ensure your business Wi-Fi is high-performing and reliable for your end users. For more information or to discuss your requirements, get in touch with out one of our Wi-Fi experts today.

It’s Business As Usual for Geekabit

We’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere.

We are lucky that much of our work is done remotely. And for situations where this isn’t possible, we are fortunately able to continue working within the government guidelines.

As the nation once again faces a period of lockdown, we thought we would link some previous blogs that might prove useful in the coming weeks.

Whether you’re in work or find yourself working from home again, you might well encounter some Wi-Fi problems. Thankfully, many of them are pretty common and are relatively easy to fix. The below blog will give you some top tips to keep you connected.

Common Wi-Fi Problems and How to Fix Them

Got yourself such good Wi-Fi that your neighbour’s sneaking on? You need to make your connection more secure. Here’s how.

Who is Stealing my Wi-Fi and How Can I Block Them?

Desperate for a bit of time out of the house? Bet you never thought you’d be longing for the office! The weather might be turning a bit too chilly to be enjoying the sunshine mentioned in this next blog, but it could help get your Wi-Fi set up in the garden shed. Don’t forget your hot water bottle and flask of coffee!

How do I get Wi-Fi in my garden?

A reliable, fast connection is once again going to be the thing to keep us connected – To colleagues, friends and family. Don’t let rubbish Wi-Fi be the thing that isolates you.

As we said, we’re still here for all your Wi-Fi needs. Perhaps you’re thinking that a business empty of employees and customers is the best time to finally get your patchy Wi-Fi sorted. In which case, do give our Wi-Fi experts a call. Operating out of London, Cardiff and Hampshire, our engineers can provide a Wi-Fi site survey, plan and design your new Wi-Fi network and then install it for you.

Maybe your home Wi-Fi network isn’t cutting it for all your zoom calls? Over the past couple of months we’ve installed a number of 4G broadband kits in place of intermittent Wi-Fi, especially in more rural areas.

To discuss any of the above, please get in touch with us today.

How to Measure RF Attenuation Through a Wall
Are you having problems with your Wi-Fi? Perhaps you didn’t carry out a Wi-Fi survey prior to designing and installing your network – Or maybe you skipped the design bit altogether!

 

Dodgy Wi-Fi can sometimes be put down to attenuation, or loss of signal. The main causes of this are the distance the signal is travelling from the transmitter, and objects in the way like walls.

It’s paramount that when you are designing a Wi-Fi network in a walled environment like an office, that you take into account things like walls and their attenuation values. These values can then be used in the design process, indicating where best to place devices and simulate any potential problems that may arise.

Not all walls are the same. Different materials will have a different attenuation value – Basically, some walls will block Wi-Fi signal more than others. Some may be plasterboard, or using plasterboard as a disguise over another material such as brick, concrete, or other materials.

Whatever the material, it’s important to identify what it is and how successfully a signal can get through. Here’s how you can go about measuring the attenuation of  a wall.

 

What you will need:
  • Something to generate Wi-Fi. This could be the hotspot function on your smartphone, a WLAN Pi in hotspot mode powered by a USB, or a battery pack powered Enterprise grade AP. You need to be able to control the transmitting power and the channel so that your measurements will be consistent.
  • A device with which you can measure Wi-Fi. This can also be done with a smartphone through AirPort Utility on iPhone or Aruba Utilities on Android. You could also use an AirCheck G2 or an Ekahau Sidekick. The device you choose will need to enable you to scan only the channel your Wi-Fi generating device is on.

 

What to do:
  1. Identify the wall you are wishing to test.
  2. Place the Wi-Fi generating device at least 4m from the wall, with nothing in-between the device and the wall.
  3. On the measuring device, set the channel to only the scan the channel that your generating device is using.
  4. Point the measuring device towards the generating device on the near side of the wall, making sure that there is a direct line of sight between the devices. Make sure you do not sit or stand between them.
  5. Take a few sets of measurements and make a note of the values. Identify the average for the near side of the wall. You could call this A.
  6. Next, move the measuring device to the other side of the wall, directly in line with where it was before. Again, point the measuring device towards the generating device.
  7. Just like before, take a few sets of measurements and make a note of the values. Identify the average measurement for the far side of the wall. You could call this B.
  8. Work out the wall attenuation: A – B. Make a note of this and document it.

 

Now you know how much the wall is (or isn’t) blocking the Wi-Fi signal. This can help you identify the best positions for devices like routers and access points when designing and installing your Wi-Fi network.

Thinking this all sounds a bit complicated? Luckily for you, our expert Wi-Fi engineers here at Geekabit are pros at carrying out this sort of investigation. We offer site surveys, Wi-Fi design & planning and Wi-Fi installation.

If you already have a Wi-Fi network set up, but have a sneaking suspicion that a particular wall might be causing you problems then we can also help diagnose any Wi-Fi issues in an already established network.

Get in touch with us today to see how our Wi-Fi experts can help you.