What is Wi-Fi:

Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is the same thing as saying WLAN which stands for “Wireless Local Area Network.”

Wi-Fi is a networking technology that uses radio waves to allow high-speed data transfer over short distances. Wi-Fi works off of the same principal as other wireless devices – it uses radio frequencies to send signals between devices. The radio frequencies are completely different say from walkie talkies, car radios, cell phones, and weather radios. For example, your car stereo receives frequencies in Kilohertz and Megahertz range (AM and FM stations), and Wi-Fi transmits and receives data in the Gigahertz range.

Interesting Fact:

For Wi-Fi, the frequency happens to be 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. These waves are very similar to the frequency found in your microwave! Your microwave uses 2.450Ghz to heat up food and your router uses 2.412 GHz to 2.472 GHz to transmit your data over Wi-Fi. This is why some people with old or faulty microwaves experience a problem with their Wi-Fi signal when they try to make popcorn.

How to Properly Design a Wireless Network:

When designing and deploying a wireless network, there are several factors to consider. Most manufacturers of wireless access points and routers indicate a typical range that their equipment can provide. Depending on the type of antenna used and the physical location of the access point or router, the range may vary significantly. It is important to consider obstacles such as walls, ceilings, furniture, and electronic interference from machinery, power lines and even microwave ovens as these all play a role in wireless signal reception. In wireless transmissions, reflections (when wireless signals “bounce” off objects) and multipath (when wireless signals travel in multiple paths arriving at the receiver at different times) are as important as signal strength in determining the success of an installation. A signal will also exhibit peaks and nulls in its amplitude and alteration of its polarization (vertical or horizontal) when propagating through walls, ceilings, and reflecting off metallic objects.

Wireless radios have special hardware and software to deal with multipath and signal level nulls, but if the antenna is in a poor location, the radio will not be able to communicate. When trying to get the best performance in a location with a lot of barriers or reflections, it is important to be able to move the antenna in all three axes in order to minimize the effects of multipath and optimize the signal strength. A good first step is to obtain a layout of the floor plan and then draw in access point locations. You will want to “overlap” the range of the access points so you have complete coverage.

Antenna Position for Directional:

Yagi and parabolic grid antennas, typically used for point to point line of sight applications, must point directly at one another for maximum signal strength. Be sure to clear all obstructions that could distort or block the antenna beam.

Antenna Position for Omni-Directional:

Omni-directional antennas should be mounted as far away as possible from all surfaces including walls, floors, ceilings etc. Additionally, all Omni-directional antennas should be mounted at the same height for maximum performance and signal strength.

Guidelines for a Better Wireless Network Design:

The following tips will help you and your business design a secure wireless network that accommodate a multitude of devices now and into the future:

  1. Include capacity or total number of devices and application performance into your network plan.
  2. Use dual radio access points.
  3. Load balance wireless users.
  4. Include network access control as part of the total system.
  5. Keep your firmware or network adapter driver for your wireless network devices updated.
  6. Consider a hi-gain antenna.
  7. Design to the lowest common denominator on your network.

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