What's Holding Your WiFi Performance Back?
by Joe Michalowski on

We have a tendency to take WiFi networks for granted. As consumers, we don’t think about the logistics of WiFi—we just want to watch Netflix without constant buffering.

The same expectation carries over for employees using business applications. They don’t care what’s going on with the WiFi in the background. They just want seamless access to applications and services necessary to get their jobs done.

Unfortunately, you know that there’s a lot more to WiFi than meets the employee eye. The complex configuration and design of your WiFi network comes loaded with performance traps.

And the root causes of slow WiFi can be mysterious. If you’re struggling to revive your slow WiFi network, here are three potential causes of performance degradation.

1. The Security Tradeoff

The IT narrative about security and performance pulling at opposite ends shows itself in the form of slow WiFi. You may have the latest and greatest WiFi access points and the promise of 802.11ac support, but the wrong security configurations will limit the performance ceiling.

The old WEP and WPA security protocols limit data rates to 54 Mbps even though the 802.11ac WiFi protocol supports up to 1,000 Mbps. Because WEP and WPA use legacy TKIP encryption, it puts a handicap on performance that inevitably leads to lost workforce productivity.

An easy WiFi performance win is to go through and ensure your access points are updated to support the WPA2 security protocol. You may need to make arrangements to keep legacy devices in the picture (if replacing them isn’t an option). But upgrading to the WPA2 protocol to take advantage of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) can go a long way toward maximizing WiFi speed.

2. Missing Out on 5 Ghz Frequencies

This point may seem too obvious to include, but it’s important nonetheless. The main advantage of switching from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz is an increase in speed. More channels are available, creating less overlap and noise in data transmission.

By opening up the frequency, you enable faster data rates and fewer disconnections of end-user devices. While 5 GHz frequencies aren’t perfect (their range is shorter and often require replacement of existing devices), they are a boon to WiFi speed in many cases.

The main problem with 5 GHz is that you most likely can’t just lift and shift your equipment to newer access points that support the frequency. You can have 2.4 GHz frequency exist alongside 5 GHz, but make sure these access points are dual band to connect to the higher frequency when possible.

3. Low Data Rate Standards

You may be reluctant to raise the data rate standards of your access points. They control WiFi client connections and you want to make sure everyone can connect—right? Maybe not.

When you keep the data rate threshold low, you’re opening the door to slow WiFi connections. Sure, the devices may be connected, but what’s the point if it’s essentially unusable for employees?

Maximizing end-user experience is the ultimate goal, so increase the data rate standards those networks that are inherently designed for great coverage.

Going Beyond the Surface-Level Issues for WiFi

When you address these three potential causes of slow WiFi, you can be sure that your workforce is set up for great productivity.

However, you know that there are more granular WiFi issues to contend with. Too many ghost issues lead to slow WiFi and you need answers.

Visibility and continuous monitoring are critical for WiFi success. See more in this infographic about real-time troubleshooting. Check out how you can become a WiFi ghostbuster, no matter where the problem occurs.

Filed Under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

Tags: end user experience monitoring , WIFI , WIFI monitoring