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5/21/2018

The Guide to Knowing More about Enterprise WiFi

Editor’s Note: It is only fitting for Asaf Bernaroch, Founder and CEO of Frantic, LLC which provides IT solutions for its clients, to tell us more about how to set up and configure WiFi for businesses so that the internet always runs at the fastest possible speed.

Thanks Asaf for sharing your insights on our IT Manager Checklist!

What should be done?

The #1 thing to do is to do a survey to measure signal strength in dbm - look at a location where the antenna is, see which antennas are operating in the surrounding area to see other antennas that reach into this location. Only after doing this do you pick the channel that has the least competitiveness.

There are many apps out there like the WiFi scanner or on MAC NetspotApp - some routers like Ubiquiti comes with their own apps.

Ubiquiti Mobile App
Ubiquiti Mobile App

On MAC's: If you hold down the "option" key on your keyboard and click on the WiFi icon on your top right, you'll get some built-in analysis provided by your MAC - see this article.

You can also use 5GhZ which is way faster than 2.4GhZ but you have to do the survey as well and it is recommended to put a different SSID on your 5G network because those antennas rely on the client to pick 5Ghz over 2.4Ghz -- which iPhones, for example, don’t do automatically. They rather pick the first signal they are familiar with. So always add “5G” to the SSID and transmit only on 5G band as well. Then you manually connect the mobile device or laptop manually to the 5G.

The Biggest Problem

One of the biggest problems for WiFi is the overlapping radio channel which create slow speed and not too little bandwidth.

This is especially so in large open spaces, where commercial antennas see the device drops below 50% and then actively disconnect them. You measure where the signal antenna should drop the connection which forces the device to immediately to a new antenna with stronger coverage.

Antennas should all be on the same SSID but on different channels. You should pay special attention to not crossing between 2.4GhZ and 5GhZ because that will create a messy setup. This is because if you roam within the 2.4GhZ, you can only roam to another 2.4GhZ and the phone will not immediately look for a different connection on 5GhZ.

Guest WiFi

One of the more common questions we get is the arrangements for Guest Wifi. And our answer? It depends on the industry. These are some of the common ways:

  • Guest portal where users register, e.g. at restaurants or pubs to get the email address
  • Open WiFi
  • Guest WiFi using tokens - receptionist creates pre-configured tokens where they send out the tokens valid for 24h, e.g. hotels

Both Windows and Mac will know that the guest is connecting to a guest WiFi and the computer will ask him if he wants to connect to the WiFi. Ideally, this WiFi is isolated so the router is only seeing one computer, and no neighbors can see anything. You can check with an IP scanner to see if there are any other IP addresses around you.

Networking Brands

For entry level networking of a 20-30 people company, I would recommend:

  • Ubiquiti
  • Cisco small business switches SG series
Cisco SG300-28
Cisco SG300-28

For 100 people, the difference would be that one need to do more hardening of local network, firewall and router.

One point to keep in mind is that the key difference between routers is CPU power, RAM on the router. Upgrading is very easy because the software is the same on Ubiquity, where you can just backup and restore.

Bonus - what do most companies do wrong?

  • Only adding antennas without properly configuring them
  • 2 bands in use in the US - 2.4GhZ and 5GhZ
  • Most companies take the antennas out of the box, connect it and forget about it
  • 2.4GhZ is a very narrowband, slow connection and only has 11 channels. Most antennas are default configured channel 1,6, 11
  • So if you power up an antenna on channel 6, most likely next door will be an antenna with channel 6 also which means an overlapping channel and you are actually decreasing bandwidth since they need to wait longer for their time slot

Frantic provides 1GB fiber internet service, most reliable, lowest latency, least amount of issues because there is no electrical equipment in between. There are no tiers, 1GB/s at $99/month, no setup, no contract.

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