We all want fast response times on our network. Sometimes the things slowing it down are easy to troubleshoot and fix. Other times, you’re probably looking up a more costly series of upgrades. Consider these Four Deadly Sins that will slow down your WLAN to see if there’s something you can fix easily, and where you’ll need some help.
1. Bad Network Configuration
Common sense? Yeah. But you’d be surprised how often we see basic mistakes made in a network configuration that then have a cascading effect on the rest of the network – specifically when it comes to speed and stability. Designing a high-performing network is part art and part science. It starts with understanding what type of network you need to support your daily business operations.
For instance, car dealerships can’t rely solely on ethernet because they’ve got to support service technicians working on vehicles in the service area. The techs are likely using multiple mobile devices as they move from vehicle to vehicle. It would, therefore, be important to have separate networks to support the service area, the dealership showroom, and internal offices, and of course a guest network for customers in the waiting area. Strategic configuration would be key.
What to do:
First ask yourself: What are our expectations and needs for wifi?
Then get your in-house or outsourced IT team to review your current policy and see if you can locate any problems with it. Have them take a look at your initial configuration including signal strength settings, the number of SSIDs and VLANs. See how traffic is moving.
Every business is unique – so you need to customize your configuration for your daily operations. Sometimes it will be as simple as setting up separate networks for guest traffic and internal traffic. Others will some have additional demands that require more complex reconfiguration.
2. Poorly Positioned APs
Large networks require multiple (sometimes many, many) Access Points (APs). Poorly positioned or blocked APs can slow down your Wi-Fi connection and affect the users closest to that AP. There are several things that can negatively impact your APs including:
- Building materials (sheetrock, insulation, triple-paned glass, brick and metal)
- A high density of people/crowded rooms
- Outside interference from neighboring networks (such as businesses next door)
- Being positioned too closely together
What to do: Do a complete inventory of all of your access points, conduct a wireless site survey, re-position your APs for maximum performance. Make sure your APs are precisely where you need them to be. You could also upgrade to Wi-Fi 6! Perform spectrum, passive and active site surveys, and get a WLAN performance assessment from a trusted IT partner.
3. BYOD Is Out Of Hand
We’re living in a Bring-Your-Own-Device world. However, organizations don’t have a formal BYOD policy on the books. The upside of BYOD is that many companies don’t have to provide devices to every employee. Having their own devices at their fingertips also helps with employee morale. The downside? Too many devices on your network can slow it down and open you up to security threats or compromise sensitive company data. Not to mention, Phil in Accounting is probably playing Candy Crush on his Android instead of balancing your books. Thanks, Phil.
What to do: Draft a BYOD policy. Set up a separate network for guest devices or specifically for employee-only devices. Consider either a whitelist or a blacklist security policy where you have tighter control over who’s using what on your network. Enact bandwidth limits, and make sure that your firewall rules are properly configured to support your employees’ bandwidth use.
4. Aging Hardware
If your network is sluggish, it could be your security protocol, or it could be that you’re using outdated hardware wireless N or below. Aging security protocols like WEP (if you’re on WEP you have bigger problems, and we’ll keep you in our thoughts) or WPA2 have limited data rates and will bog down your network.
What to do: Consider upgrading some of your hardware (if you have the budget) to get lightning-fast speeds, and also to attain the WPA3 protocol. WPA3 is more secure than its predecessors, thanks to Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), which replaces the Pre-Shared Key (PSK) method of WPA2.
Wireless Enterprise Design For High Performance
We specialize in improving WLAN performance including network management, conducting wireless predictive design and planning, wireless heat mapping and site coverage verification. Contact us to get one scheduled, or to consult about ways to improve network speed within the budget you have.