“The Internet’s not working”. “My video keeps freezing”. “I can’t read my email”.
We have all heard these cries of exasperation. What they have in common is poor Wi-Fi coverage. People expect constant, reliable connectivity, whether it is at home, on the move or in the office, just as they expect heat and light. Wi-Fi is not a “nice to have”, it’s a “must have”!
Wi-Fi points need to be cabled…who knew!
Wi-Fi is a technology that uses radio waves to connect a device to a network without using wires. No wires mean mobility and flexibility. But don’t forget, the Wi-Fi access points need to be cabled. There are only 3 simple steps to get right: The Wi-Fi design, the product and the installer…who knew!
Most Wi-Fi networks go wrong at the design stage. No matter how good the equipment chosen or how knowledgeable the supplier, if not designed properly, it will not work properly. The best practice is to engage a Wi-Fi specialist like Kedington.
Wi-Fi technology is constantly evolving. The IEEE sets wireless standards to guarantee industry wide interoperability. Wi-Fi is handled by the 802.11 committee. These standards can be confusing to the uninitiated and are not easily remembered. So, the Wi-Fi Alliance came up with a simpler naming convention. From Wi-Fi 1 (the oldest) to Wi-Fi 6 (the newest). Basically, you should always focus on the latest version. Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 are similar in pricing.
Wi-Fi 6 is now the standard solution deployed on almost all new Wi-Fi networks (and is fully backwards compatible with older systems). The next version released will be Wi-Fi 6e. This will utilise the 6Ghz spectrum (which has not yet been approved for use in the EU). Wi-Fi 6e is targeted at very high-density, high bandwidth solutions and is not expected until 2022.
And Now for the Science
Wi-Fi 6 uses OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access), which can divide a wireless channel into many subchannels. Data for different devices can be sent on these subchannels which helps avoid congestion. Wi-Fi 6 also uses improved MU-MIMO, Multiple User Multiple In/Multiple Out. This means it uses multiple antennas to talk to multiple channels at once, allowing the access point to not only talk to multiple devices at once, but also allows those devices to respond at the same time. But this also means your clients may need more access points to be deployed, as these higher speeds may reduce the area covered. Four items worth mentioning:
- Faster performance, with speeds up to four times faster than Wi-Fi 5 / 802.11ac and support for more devices (learn about 1024-QAM, OFDMA).
- Improved battery life for connected devices.
- Wi-Fi 6 will support more connections per access point and will be capable of handling more data than ever before. Hence it will become central to emerging technologies including medical devices, robotics, drones and even self-driving vehicles.
- Enhanced security with support for
Wi-Fi Certified WPA3. With these capabilities, Wi-Fi 6 brings better performance to crowded environments with hundreds or even thousands of simultaneous devices and users. But this is all in vain if you don’t choose the right Wi-Fi partner.
Wiring for Wireless
Enterprises require throughput beyond Gigabit for client access, the nominal 1Gbps is a limitation due to the legacy Category 5e/6 cabling in most of the older installations today. We recommend installing Cat6a, built to 10GBASE-T standards to eliminate the bottleneck created by Category 5e/6.
How we Power this explosion of Data
We must consider Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) which utilizes copper cabling and powers wireless access points. In the IEEE P802.3bt 4-pair Power over Ethernet project we are looking at 90W at source and Cisco UPOE at 100W.
In order to supply power safely, and without concerns about overheating of the cabling, Category 6a is therefore a must. Applications using higher power (new Wi-Fi 6 access points, CCTV Camera’s, displays etc) are already being deployed across the Network. Cat6a is again the obvious choice to safely support these devices.
What are the Standard Bodies saying about cabling to Wi-Fi points?
It is also important to note the latest cabling standards don’t mention Category 5e or Category 6 for wiring to Wi-Fi points. TIA standards recommend Cat 6A for all new installations—including TIA-568 generic cabling standards for commercial buildings, the TIA-4966 standard for education facilities, TIA-1179 for healthcare, TIA-862-B for intelligent buildings and so on. ISO/IEC standards also concur.
Keeping it Secure
Wi-Fi networks are often perceived as unreliable and not secure. This is not a fault or weakness of the technology. This is unfortunately because many networks are not correctly specified, designed and often poorly implemented. Key to the successful implementation of a Wi-Fi network is good surveying and engineering services. The coverage provided by a single AP will be dependent on numerous factors including, number of radios in the AP, location of the AP, position and composition of walls and partitions and the number of expected users within the coverage area.
The Technology tools
Kedington use Industry leading software Ekahau to design, optimise, and maintain Wi-Fi networks of any size. This ensures high performance and includes capacity planning and analysis, network optimization and troubleshooting of Kedington designed Wireless Networks.
Finally, the Do’s and Don’ts
- Do cable at least two cat6a cables to each access point.
- Do conduct a proper Wi-Fi survey on site.
- Do have us as the expert determine how many Wi-Fi units and locations are required & spec the right cable (cat6a).
- Don’t use Cat 6 cable and don’t use only one Cat6a cable.
- Don’t just guess the location of the Wi-Fi units…this leads to lots of poor coverage areas.
- Don’t use cheap products.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from Kedington.