Maximizing Wi-Fi Functionality

Michael Accetta

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On June 30th In Networking
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To get the best performance from high-performance Wi-Fi Access Points (WAPs), installation companies should take careful consideration of the type of cable and connectors used for network connection, placement of the WAPs in the client’s building, and their potential usage.

For cabling, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) standards call for a minimum of one Cat6 cable to each WAP location. With most enterprise-level WAPs a single Cat6 UTP can provide both Ethernet connectivity and PoE power for the device. Make sure that you use Cat6 grade connectors, and many installers are pulling two Cat6 cables to provide extra capability to handle the Gigabit-plus bandwidth that  802.11ac Wi-Fi standard devices can provide.

Manufacturer recommendations vary widely on the topic of client density per WAP, so it’s very important to understand the dynamics of the usage area, user applications of clients at peak times and the specific manufacturer recommendations.

Controller-less or Virtual Controller (VC) WAPs are usually desirable when the total number of deployed Access Points is less than approximately 250 units. Above that line, it is typically recommend that an Enterprise Grade Controller be used. If you or your end users are suspicious that the wireless network will experience rapid growth, make sure you are using WAPs that will expand to an enterprise environment with minimal intervention.

The location of WAP installation is critical to achieve maximum bandwidth and coverage. Ceiling mount is the preferred location, and these devices should not be installed above drop ceilings.  Most manufacturers recommend the horizontal mounting of their WAPs as opposed to placing the device on a wall. Where wall mount is the necessary installation point, there are agronomic access points by some manufacturers that will install into a single or dual gang data box.

To provide the superior Wi-Fi capability that is now a requirement in many installations, careful planning and execution of the WAP installations will help yield the desired results.

A final point is to look for manufacturer compliance to Wi-Fi standards and certifications such as the Wi-Fi Alliance, Payment Card International (PCI) and HIPAA. This should ensure both the technical competency of the access points and possibly mitigate the chances of unsavory parties accessing the wireless network. Check with your end user and you will find that most of the larger learning institutions have a requirement for at least one of the above.

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