Incremental WLAN Investments May Pay Significant Dividends

M. Spanbauer
M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:                  

  • Even minor incremental upgrades may pay significant dividends
  • IT departments should consider additional WLAN surveys post-deployment due to the increase in radio noise and potential coverage issues that result

In the last six months several vendors have announced products that incrementally improve the 802.11n solution either through clever antenna designs, intelligent noise suppression or improved throughput performance (radio or otherwise).  The key element is that most of these require additional investment in WLAN hardware or software.  To some this may seem odd as in the past, unless a new technology or significant advantage was to be obtained, the effort to procure any budget would not be worth the hassle of the RFP and budgeting process.  However, we contend that with the demands placed on the WLAN network today, even minor incremental investment in the network could pay handsome dividends, with returns in months.  The number of tablets, smartphones and other wireless dependent devices being brought into the enterprise and consuming WLAN cycles continues to increase at an incredible pace.  This in turn increases the access to and therefore the usage of enterprise applications which are easily accessible via these mobile devices, the most notable being email.  As more advanced applications become more widely available and these users further increase their productivity, the correlation between WLAN performance and user productivity grows clearer.  Therefore, the improved WLAN coverage and performance may directly translate into increased user productivity and ultimately into increased revenue productivity (or at least user efficiency).

As a result of this increased usage and demands on the WLAN network, it is proposed that a WLAN survey be conducted regarding the coverage performance and ultimately the system capacity on a regular basis. Some vendors provide integral solutions for this which report out within the element management and others require additional tools or software to do this.  Regardless of the means to accomplish this, it is well worth the effort invested to ascertain whether the network is performing optimally as WLAN network performance isn’t as simple as a switched network port which you can measure at 1/10/100Mb as one could in the past.  Who knows, the next IT budgeting process round may depend on the experience a director or VP has on WLAN and the correlation to how well they feel the last budget was allocated or spent.

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