By: Craig Badrick on July 5th, 2016


4 Issues a Wireless Network Assessment Helps Resolve


Have you heard of a wireless network assessment? It is a thorough examination and assessment of your current network (in this case, wireless, but assessments of wired networks or wired + wireless networks are also available). The wireless network assessment culminates in a report of all the issues found and recommendations for resolving the problems and optimizing the performance of the network. What kinds of issues can an assessment help fix?

1. Identifying Wireless Interference

There are numerous factors that can affect the performance of your wireless network, including neighboring Wi-Fi hotspots, concrete walls, metal and electronics, Bluetooth devices, and even outdated firmware. But a smart wireless network design can overcome issues of interference and begins with a thorough wireless network assessment.

When the wireless unit isn't working so well across a large setting, the solution most folks come up with is 'crank it up!'. They believe that by cranking all the settings to 'high', or adding more access points, that the performance will be better. The problem is, a higher-powered signal just makes for higher-powered interference.

It works much like trying to have a conversation with a friend in a popular restaurant. If you go at 10AM on a weekday, when the breakfast crowd is gone and the lunch people haven't started coming in yet, you two can have a conversation at regular volume with no problem. But if you show up at 6:30PM, at the peak of the dinner hour, you will have to scream at each other to hear at all.

That's what turning up your Wi-Fi unit does to the communications, and a wireless network assessment can identify the best settings and configuration to make your Wi-Fi units work optimally  — just as long as you've included the right things on your network audit checklist.

2. Areas of High-Density Users

Sometimes, high concentrations of users put stress on the network without IT even realizing it.

You probably know some of the high-density areas, such as in the conference rooms and break areas. But there could be areas where people tend to congregate to use devices that you aren't aware of. For example, guests to your campus who smoke may congregate right outside your doors, and need a better wireless signal there. Some of your outdoorsy workers may prefer to make pallets in the grassy areas next to your parking lot when the weather is nice, and you may need to add wireless coverage there.

The solution may be adding more bandwidth or access points, or there could be another answer. A wireless network assessment finds those hidden areas and helps you boost performance for all users

3. Low-Powered Devices or Applications Accessing the Wireless Network 

A design that worked well for laptops may be failing your mobile users. It could be that the newer devices trying to access your network aren't high-powered enough to get a signal back to the wireless access points.

Wireless communications are actually two-way. In many environments where the Wi-Fi isn't working as well as expected, the problem is the devices attempting to access the wireless network. Smartphones, tablets, and newer mobile devices are much lower powered than laptops in an effort to increase battery life, so even when the wireless access points are able to get a signal to them, those devices aren't capable of pushing a signal back. A wireless network assessment can identify issues like this and make recommendations for resolving the problems.

Another cause of poor performing Wi-Fi can be applications using up the bandwith. Though you may be blaming Facebook and YouTube for sucking all the available bandwidth, the real issue might be your new cloud-based CRM software or a recently implemented big data analytics initiative.

A network assessment helps to pinpoint which applications are actually consuming the most bandwidth so that you can supplement the bandwidth where needed, limit access to the hoggish application, or take other steps to assure the best possible network performance for all users and applications.

4. Addressing the Ever-Higher Demands of Users

Users today are a bit spoiled. A generation who is used to being able to access anything from movies to killer content to the latest tech gadget in milliseconds with just the tap of a touchscreen isn't likely to be patient waiting around for slow wireless connectivity.

They demand always-available access from anywhere. Even the tiniest lag times cause calls to pour into an already overworked IT department. It is vitally important to be able to provide good wireless service to workers, as well as to customers and other visitors.

Fortunately, you can improve their user experience by improving the wireless performance, and that can be done with a smart network design. A wireless network assessment helps you identify what's causing lag times and poor service and resolve the issues to improve both employee morale and customer satisfaction.

Is your wireless network causing issues in your workplace? Take this free, online wireless assessment test to see if your network needs an upgrade.


Network Assessment Tool