A big key here is minimizing the number of access points (APs) needed to support your network without sacrificing network quality.

Wi-Fi Got You Puzzled? Go ‘Back to School’ for Answers

Date: September 4th, 2014
Author: Alli Stevens

Implementing a functional and cost-effective Wi-Fi solution can be tricky, especially for large facilities and venues with high usage and interference. There are a lot of factors organizations need to consider in order to maximize the value of Wi-Fi implementation, but what are these factors? For a great example of what to consider when implementing a Wi-Fi solution, look no further than schools. They run on a strict budget, have to support a large number of people and devices, and must adhere to rigid compliance guidelines.

So, in honor of Back-to-School season, let’s look at the considerations schools need to make when it comes to Wi-Fi networking and see we can’t find some parallels with your own industry.

Budget. 99% of organizations have budget concerns (some more than others, but concerns nonetheless). Whether you’re a private businesses or government-funded school, you owe it to your employees, stakeholders and/or taxpayers to operate at maximum financial efficiency. A Wi-Fi network should be an asset, not a drain on your budget. 

This is where engineering and technology come into play. Smart network setup should maximize the technological capabilities of the Wi-Fi hardware, and vice versa. A big key here is minimizing the number of access points (APs) needed to support your network without sacrificing network quality. It’s simple math: APs cost money; the fewer you can use for the appropriate coverage, the more you save. Again, engineering and technology need to work together to make this happen .

People and Devices. Schools concerns on connectivity are usually related to high-density Wi-Fi (a ton of clients per AP) and the perpetually increasing usage on their Internet drains (email, education, file storage, etc... moving to the cloud). Schools also have to decide whether they will allow and/or support a BYOD environment and plan accordingly for increased usage and security risks. 

Businesses and other organizations face the same challenges. A wired warehouse, for example, is full of handheld tracking devices and other technology connected to the network. The network should account for a variety of devices and be optimized to run at an effective speed during peak usage times. Sectored antennas can be a big help here, as they reduce signal overlap, improving the quality of the connection.

Compliance and Security. It’s a universal concern. Schools, businesses, non-profits -- we all have information we’re required to keep safe. In addition, internal security is needed to prevent people from accessing certain portions of the company server, or to prevent people from accessing certain websites. Even if you’re not required to adhere to specific regulations and guidelines, high security standards are a must in this day and age. Your network settings should be easily managed (as compliance requirements can change in a hurry), but tough to crack. This isn’t so much tied into the hardware of the network as it is the software it runs on. Your implementation team should be well-versed in both back-end usability and security functionality.

Of course, every industry and every organization varies in needs, but most should weigh all of these factors when building an effective Wi-Fi network.