Time for a Wi-Fi Health Check?

  • workforce insights
  • November 14, 2014

Infographic: Improve Office Wifi with these 10 Pointers

Accessing Wi-Fi from all areas of an office isn't always as easy as it sounds. Many businesses assume that technology upgrades to their networks will alone increase their wireless Internet performance, but without the right deployment expertise and understanding of environmental factors, no amount of technology can overcome an ailing Wi-Fi network. 

Take a look at the 10 factors in our infographic that can make or break a business’ Wi-Fi performance and wireless connectivity.

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1. Dueling Access Points

Your own access points can cause interference with each other if they are not properly positioned or configured. Poorly designed Wi-Fi networks, usually set up through auto-configuration settings, happen all too often.

A properly designed wireless network will not cause interference with itself, so when setting up your network, ensure your deployment team understands the variables that can cause self-destructive interference.

2. Competing Frequencies in Adjacent Buildings

Wi-Fi doesn’t recognize walls unless they are made of water or metal, so a Wi-Fi network could be experiencing interference from a neighbor that you aren’t even aware of.

Come to a peaceful resolution with your neighbor by talking to them about changing Wi-Fi settings to coexist with yours. If this isn’t an option, seek out an expert who can configure your network to best operate within existing conditions. Most times, the result will be better office internet service for both parties.

3. Land and Structural Topography

Be aware of environmental factors like foliage and topography when considering access to an outdoor Wi-Fi network.

If you set up an outdoor network in winter, be advised that once the trees come into bloom, the signal will be negatively impacted due to the water in the leaves. Don't forget to consider any and all natural obstacles.

4. Presence of Water

Large concentrated bodies of water ranging from pipes to large water supply closets can absorb RF signals, making water an radio frequency killer.

Know where these major concentrations of water are or will be during the design process, particularly if deploying Wi-Fi in an outdoor environment. Even plants and soil that needs to be watered can interfere with wifi connectivity significantly.

5. Signal Quality

Just because you have a strong signal doesn’t make it a quality signal: if your wireless performance is not operating as intended, any number of factors could be affecting your network’s signal quality.

Solutions may include new configurations or rearranging access points, but it is best to run the proper tests to ensure you have identified the source of the problem. Getting good wifi access at every corner of the office is sometimes a challenge, but almost always doable.

6. Room Height

Wireless access point or antenna placement typically should be no more than 35 feet off the ground. Tall ceilings can pose a problem.

When setting up Wi-Fi in a room with exceedingly tall ceilings (like a large office lobby), look for alternate areas to mount access points or opt for a more specialized antenna, like a directional antenna.

7. Design for Capacity

Improper planning for the number of simultaneous Wi-Fi users and devices in a given area can decrease connectivity.

Plan with capacity in mind rather than coverage, by estimating the projected number of users and then determine how many users will be using that Wi-Fi infrastructure at a given time.

There is no one magic number of potential Wi-Fi users because each environment is different. Wi-Fi deployment expertise is often required in these calculations, especially when setting up a WiFi network in a large complex office environment.

8. Competing Frequencies in One Room or Office

Devices running on different frequencies can compete with the Wi-Fi signal in close quarters, thereby diminishing connectivity.

To combat this, plan for the co-existence of multiple frequencies from microwaves, Bluetooth, or wireless cameras. If frequency issues arise after the design process, ask a professional about completing a tune-up on your network.

9. Signal Type

It's crucial to consider signal type for good wireless access. 2.4 GHz WiFi signals are less susceptible to attenuation, or the loss of power as a waves move through walls or even the air. But a 5GHz signal packs more data punch, better accommodating activities such as video streaming.

Evaluate carefully which signal best accommodates your Wi-Fi usage and your physical structure. Most businesses today are looking for the higher capacity of the 5GHz signal, which may mean deploying a greater number of access points to limit attenuation.

10. Reflective Surfaces

Radio waves commonly are impacted by reflection, refraction, and diffraction.

Be mindful of surface types during the construction process and know that surface types can both positively and adversely influence coverage. For instance, reflection, stemming from a room full of stainless steel fixtures, can benefit Wi-Fi signals but refraction, resulting from the presence of a metal pole, can diminish wireless connectivity.

Do you have wireless access tips to share? Let us know in the comments or tweet us. And don't forget to take a look at our other useful infographics about the workplace and job market on our blog.