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Wireless pain in your workplace?

posted Apr 9, 2016, 8:35 AM by Heidi Hendry   [ updated Apr 9, 2016, 10:23 PM ]
You have staff members complaining about the slow wireless? 

Or customers who say that the "internet" wasn't working.

It seems that here in Hanoi, the "solution" is to install another wireless access point.
But that's usually making the problem worse.

What is really going on?

Unfortunately, most of the wireless access points (WAPs) that I've seen here in cafes and businesses are cheap consumer-grade devices, as that is primarily what is easily and cheaply available.
The problem with using consumer-grade devices is that they are not designed for the amount of network traffic that a business-grade device handles.
Another problem can include only having the 2.4Ghz wireless frequency, instead of also offering the 5GHz wireless frequency.. 
The 2.4GHz frequency has a lot of interference on it which can slow the network traffic. Interference on the 2.4Ghz frequency comes from devices like cordless phones and microwaves.

And, the main interference is too many devices. If your staff have all their smartphones on the wireless network, then those smartphones are creating a lot of network traffic as well. 
And if your neighbours know your wireless password, then they are creating extra traffic as well.

And then there's malware. Malware, which you might know as "viruses" or "trojans", is "malicious software" is a common network traffic hog. 
Another reason to put your guest devices and smartphones onto a guest wireless network.

Some simple steps are:
1. Upgrade your devices
Wireless access points are available that will run wireless networks on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Read more on the two frequencies here.
Also, there are WAPs that will run a guest network.
Look for business-grade wireless access points, like UniFi long range access points or HP Aruba wireless access points. In Vietnam, we have limited choice, so if TP-Link and D-Link are all you can find, then look for business-grade products.

2. Setup a guest wireless network
Get your guest devices and staff smartphones off your primary work network. You can do this with upgraded devices, or add some new WAPs.

3. Run a wireless heat map check
Using software like Ekahu HeatMapper, look for the "cold" spots in your wireless coverage.

4. Check the channels in use
Your wireless is competing with the other nearby wireless networks, and the best way to minimise the interference from those other networks is to ensure your devices are using different channels.
Use Acrylic WiFi scanner to find the channels the other networks are using, and read this article on channel overlaps

5. Get rid of malware.
Devices on your network should all be regularly checked for malware. Either with antivirus software, set to scan regularly, or regular one-off checks with a program like Malwarebytes or Trend Micro's HouseCall.
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