Network Capacity Planning – Wireless Capacity vs Coverage

Network Capacity Planning – Wireless Capacity vs Coverage


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Network capacity planning is the process of designing a wireless network for a specific location, bandwidth, number of access points, channel utilization, and other network capacity constraints. Doing proper network capacity planning helps network engineers to plan the WiFi structure adequately.

The process of designing a WiFi network can start in many ways. All IT teams take a different avenue when it comes to planning a WLAN’s structure. However, the goal of providing connectivity to a specific location in which users will be connected to the network doesn’t change.

In our previous article, we have put together seven key recommendations for network engineers to plan a better WiFi network design.

In this article, we will take a hands-on approach to plan wireless networks. Before deep-diving into it, let’s take a quick look at the differences between planning a wireless network for coverage vs. capacity.

Wireless network for coverage

When deploying WLANs for coverage, there are three main variables to consider: device power settings, physical environment (like buildings, obstacles, walls), and the device antenna capabilities. The latest enterprise gear will automatically adapt their settings to supply ideal coverage. However, long gone are the days when we used to plan for coverage. Nowadays, with the fast-paced growth of IoT devices connected to networks, users not only want to connect their laptops and smartphones to a WiFi network. They want to be on the move and still have a great connection. They want to upload, download, and stream content without the ‘suffer-buffer’ and slow loading rates. 

Consequently, planning only for coverage seems falling short for the current users’ needs. A proper WLAN design for capacity and coverage, paired with spectrum analysis and validation site surveys (pre and post-deployment), will reduce most of the support tickets coming your way related to the performance of your customers’ networks.

Wireless network for capacity

When designing for capacity, instead, we need to analyze multiple variables that will shape the final decision, like the main application to be supported, how many users will be using the network simultaneously, estimate bandwidth per user, and access points throughout. Also, plan for site survey validation that among all the things that are useful for, it helps you to avoid the typical coverage holes in the WiFi networks.

Nowadays, designing WLANs rigidly for coverage is an antiquated concept. WLAN capacity and airtime consumption reduction come first. However, before starting a WLAN design, it is necessary to assess the primary purpose of the network, the main application to be supported, number of concurrent users, type of client devices expected in the network, bandwidth per-user goal, and access points throughput.

Let’s look at each segment in greater detail.

Wireless Network Capacity Planning – How to get started

Follow these steps to start your WLAN design based on capacity:

Assess the application bandwidth requirement

When assessing the application throughput, there’s a primary application that drives the need for connectivity. Let’s take a school as our main example for this article. 

The school’s primary application might be browser-based, streaming a video class, or a learning platform. Understanding what the school needs will help you to know what should be the per-user bandwidth goal. The latter will drive further design network decisions.

We have a tool that can help you to calculate the bandwidth requirement. We created it to suggest the type of access points suitable per location and application type, but to estimate the required bandwidth per-user connection, it comes in handy. Check it out here.

Assess the Aggregate Application Throughput

Once you know the bandwidth throughput per application and connection, you can calculate the aggregate application throughput needed in the area you intend to cover with the WLAN.

As a thumb of rule, you should have an aggregate application throughput for different areas. For instance, one for the classrooms, another one for the halls and the staff offices, as the connections and usage might differ in each area. 

So, let’s say you are designing a WiFi network for a school to support video streaming, which requires at least 3 Mbps per user in a classroom of 50 students.

[Application Throughput] * [Number of Concurrent Users] = Aggregate Application Throughput
So if we do quick maths, it would be:
3 Mbps * 50 students = 150 Mbps for the classroom
Note: the result you get here is a theoretical estimation to use in the calculations of the step 4.

Assess the Aggregate Throughput per Access Point

In practice, most APs support the latest technologies and maximum data rates defined as per the standards. However, the average AP throughput available is usually dictated by other factors like client device capabilities, concurrent users per access point, type of technologies to be supported, and bandwidth.

In reality, client device capabilities can have a meaningful impact on throughput as client devices supporting only legacy rates will have lower throughput than a client device supporting newer technologies. 

When assessing client device throughput requirements, you can run a survey on client devices to determine their wireless capabilities. For instance, if the school wants to prioritize throughput for proprietary hardware, you should identify the supported wireless bands of those devices (e.g., 2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz). Also, check on the supported wireless standards (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), and the number of spatial streams each device supports. 

Recommendations:

  • To ensure the quality of experience, make sure to have around 25 client devices per radio or 50 client devices per AP in high-density environments. 
  • Also, consider in a high-density context, we’d suggest having a channel width of 20 MHz to reduce the number of access points using the same channel.
  • Client devices do not always support the fastest data rates. Thus, based on the manufacturer’s advertised data rate, then estimate the wireless throughput capability of the client device. A common practice is to consider about half of the data rate. Then, based on that value, reduce further the throughput by 30% for a 20 MHz channel width.

Calculate how many access points are required for a perfect network capacity planning

We suggest double-checking the application throughput requirements. This will have a high impact on the number of access points to deploy and, therefore, it will increase your operational costs if miscalculated.

Going back to our previous example, designing the WLAN for a school, with the following requirements and assumptions:

  • Main application to support: video streaming, which requires 3 Mbps with standard resolution.
  • The classroom accommodates 50 students streaming video to the school laptop at the same time.
  • All laptops support the 802.11ac wireless standard. Also, have 3 spatial streams capability.
  • The WiFi network is configured for 20MHz channels.
  • The WiFi access point yields up to 101 Mbps of throughput.

To calculate roughly how many APs are needed to satisfy the video streaming application capacity, use the following formula:

[Aggregate Application Throughput] / [Access Point Throughput] = Number of Access Points based on throughput
150 Mbps/101Mbps = 1.48 ~ 2 APs per classroom.

Once the number of access points is defined, then the AP’s physical placement can take place. Carry out a site survey to ensure adequate signal coverage in all areas and also proper spacing of APs on the floor plan with the minimum co-channel interference and proper cell overlap. It’s crucial to consider the RF environment and construction materials used for AP placement.

In our next blog article, we will be discussing how to calculate the real access point throughput vs the one advertised by the manufacturer.

Make sure to keep an eye on our blog. We will release weekly blog posts about WiFi network design, key for a healthy and well-performing WiFi network.

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WiFi Network Design

WiFi network design – What to take into consideration when designing WLANs

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about WiFi network design.

In the process of WiFi network design, you need to consider many factors to plan it out thoroughly. In this blog article, I won’t cover the typical step-by-step of ‘how to design a WLAN’, instead, I will highlight key elements that you should take into consideration to successfully design a WLAN. 

WiFi Network Design. Key considerations

1) Plan for capacity not for coverage

Not that long ago, designing a WiFi network was pretty much focused around physical site surveys to determine the number of access points needed to provide enough coverage. Afterward, you would evaluate the results and compare the amount of APs against an acceptable minimum of signal strength, and the whole WLAN design would be deemed a success. 

Going down this road is suitable for WLANs that are planned for coverage but certainly is not the right approach to meet capacity requirements. For instance, when you plan for RF coverage, you leave out key elements like the number of concurrent users, applications’ bandwidth needs, and capabilities that you would cover if you design for capacity instead.

Wireless engineers and IT consultants need to fully understand the network design requirements to ensure a successful design. This step is crucial, so don’t skip it! This will help you reduce the need for further site surveys after you deploy the WiFi infrastructure and deploy additional access points in the long run. 

Grab all the details:

  • What types of applications will be expected in the network, e.g., web browsing, VoIP calls, software, or video streaming? Calculate the bandwidth per user with our tool.
  • What technologies should WiFi infrastructure support (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)?
  • How many client devices will connect to the WiFi network simultaneously? It will help you to determine the number of spatial streams, technology, and access point type.
  • What are the key areas you need to cover and provide WiFi?
  • Estimate the number of concurrent devices per area 
  • Check if there are any limitations for cabling or any aesthetic requirements, e.g., mesh solution.
  • Also, consider power constraints. It’s way more useful to have an infrastructure equipped with PoE+ that allows you to support high performing access points. 

Once you gather all this information, you can adequately plan for capacity!

2) Channel utilization

The WiFi network management platform you choose should have incorporated a tool to manage radiofrequency. So, it can dynamically assign access points channels, adjust the access point transmit power, and provide coverage lapse mitigation for the WiFi infrastructure. 

For instance, for the 802.11ac wireless standard, radio frequency management should be executed at 20, 40, and 80MHz channel widths. Different client devices will support different channel widths for the 802.11 protocols. Client devices that support the wider channel widths will support higher bandwidth within the particular protocol.

Estimate how many client devices you can allocate per band. With newer technologies, more client devices now support dual-band operation, and hence using proprietary implementation devices can be steered to 5 GHz. A typical design approach is to do a 30/70 split between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. So, do the maths!

3) Roaming

Take into consideration when designing WLANs, especially for high-density environments, that roaming will happen very often. Having access points that support fast roaming or a WiFi management software that can give this capability to access points is crucial—fast roaming aids in reducing application latency while the client device roams from one access point to another.

Furthermore, the placement of access points plays a significant role in roaming. Even after deploying the access points in the right locations, roaming may not perform as you would expect. This is merely due to the variety of client devices connected in the network with diverse Network Interface Cards (NICs) and roaming algorithms. 

Keep in mind that in high-density environments, it is acceptable if a client device doesn’t roam to every access point in the roaming path and only roams to every other access point, as far as roaming is seamless before the client device’s Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) falls between 75 dBm to 80 dBm.

Although the client device usually takes the roaming decision, a management software like Tanaza allows you to enable the fast roaming feature on top of devices compatible with our platform. Lastly, to maximize speed and facilitate roaming, you should disable lower data rates in support of legacy wireless protocols.

4) Think Mobile – Again, Think mobile

A good WLAN design needs to be built up, also, for mobile – its a must, not a luxury! The wireless design for deployment should be optimized for every device, from smartphones and IoT to computers and tablets. Having the right wireless design comes first, especially when ensuring elevated device performance and overall mobility for a better end-user experience. This also means considering features such as 802.11r/w/v.

5) SSIDs

To maximize performance in the wireless space and simplify deployment, try to minimize the number of SSIDs being broadcasted into the environment. The drawback of enabling more SSIDs is that it generates extra channel utilization due to overhead. A target of three SSIDs per access point provides for a flexible yet straightforward deployment model. 

For example, you can have one SSID using a captive portal for guest access and 802.1x client provisioning. A second SSID for 802.1x authenticated users and devices. And a third SSID for particular use cases or specialized wireless devices, e.g., Wi-Fi-enabled VoIP phones, non-802.1x capable devices, or specialized network devices. 

For other use cases, different SSIDs may be required depending on your specific needs, but strive for no more than 3 SSIDs per access point.

6) BYOD

Users want to connect their personal devices to public and private WiFi networks. It’s the standard. Just make sure that users are routed through a web content filter to provide a secure browsing experience to all users.

Tanaza features a cutting-edge integrated network content filter that blocks users from accessing inappropriate or unauthorized websites and applications while using your WiFi networks. This filter blocks malware internet pages and can work as a parental control software tool too.

Lastly, have in place a limit per-user bandwidth consumption in the network to manage its performance. Don’t forget to take into account that the BYOD trend has a direct consequence on the bandwidth and throughput requirement.

7) Bandwidth limitation

Our last recommendation for a better WiFi network design is to put in place a per-client device bandwidth limit on all the WiFi network traffic. Consider that if you prioritize applications such as video and voice, it will significantly impact the network’s bandwidth, limiting the performance of other applications. For instance, 5 Mbps is a good recommendation for a per-client bandwidth limit in a high-density environment. Of course, you can neglect this limit for specific devices and applications and adjust it to your particular needs.
With the ever-increasing use of IoT devices, as well as the exponential use of cloud-based applications, critical to businesses everywhere, it forces IT specialists and consultants to be one step ahead of the game and be prepared. This means having the right wireless network design to meet the client’s needs. 

Make sure to keep an eye on our blog. We will release weekly blog posts about WiFi network design, essential for a healthy and well-performing WiFi network.

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MSPs – The ultimate guide to the 802.11 ax wireless standard

https://www.tanaza.com/blog/tanazaos-and-openwrt-differences-and-similarities/

MSPs – The ultimate guide to the 802.11 ax wireless standard

MSPs – The ultimate guide to the 802.11ax wireless standard


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Get ready for the new 802.11ax wireless standard!

In today’s ‘always connected’ world, MSPs have the responsibility of keeping all their wireless networks up and running 24/7. The way users consume data and the ever-growing number of connected devices in a network, only reassures that user behavior continues to be the main driver for changing the portfolio of services offered by MSPs.

As users still outline the guidelines for action with their evolving needs for a more connected world, MSPs need to stay one step ahead of the trend and stay informed to guide their clients through the rapid shifts of the wireless market.

The evolution of the WiFi standard, the so-called 802.11ax or WiFi6, is coming down our way this year. This standard will lift some pressure on wireless networks deployed in dense environments with multiple client devices connected at once. 802.11ax promises improved speed levels, increased efficiency, and reduced congestion in heavy-bandwidth usage scenarios.

MSPs need to manage and guide their customers during this transition from the standard 802.11ac to 802.11ax. At this point, SMBs might be wondering about new access points, the standard itself, and compatibility with their current devices. Also, another concern for SMBs is whether it is necessary to upgrade all the infrastructure promptly to comply with the WiFi standard or do nothing. Right now is the time for MSPs to step in and take the lead. Understanding the latest 802.11ax wireless standard is essential to prepare your customers for embracing the new wireless technology.

This is a series of articles about the 802.11ax wireless standard. In this article, we’ll cover the general concepts, benefits, and the technology behind 802.11ax in plain English.

What is 802.11ax or WiFi6?

Every new WiFi standard brings significant improvements in performance, speed, and capabilities for the wireless connection. The IEEE 802.11 family of wireless standards is giving a spin to the current 802.11ac to boost and improve the performance. Hereafter, the family of standards has a new member: the high-efficient wireless 802.11ax.

The 802.11ax standard, also known as WiFi6 or high-efficient wireless, is an evolution of the standard wireless 802.11ac. The 802.11ax, unlike its predecessors, focuses on better efficiency, performance, and capacity.

These achievements are possible thanks to multiple variations in the current standard. For example, the new 802.11ax has more OFDMA sub-channels, MU-MIMO user multiplexed, higher order 1024-QAM and beamforming. Furthermore, uplinks are now scheduled instead of based on contention. Also, the channel interference gets drastically reduced through BSS color coding, thanks to better power-control methods to avoid interference with neighboring networks.

Moreover, the 802.11ax supports the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This means that the new 802.11ax standard stays backward compatible with 802.11ac and even with 802.11n devices.

To sum up, the IEEE 802.11ax wireless standard promises to solve some of the problems left behind by its predecessors. Furthermore, it will ease congestion in high-density environments like airports, stadiums, shopping malls, conference centres, universities/schools and offices/co-working spaces.

The amendment of 802.11ax will be ratified in the first quarter of 2020. As of now, the WiFi Alliance has begun its 802.11ax certification program name as WiFi6 – naming convention that will prevail for the general consumer. As with previous standards, vendors have already released some chipsets compatible with 802.11ax, even before the certification is official.

What are the benefits of 802.11ax for dense environments?

The 802.11ax wireless standard will allow MSPs to support the latest applications on the same wireless deployments, while delivering a higher service to legacy applications. Correspondingly, it will enable new business models and push towards WiFi adoption even more.

High-density environments will enjoy the benefits of 802.11ax, as compatible access points will support more client devices connected simultaneously. Further, traditional wireless networks will have a much better experience. Likewise, applications like 4K or 8K video, IoT, VR, and AI devices will get more predictable performance.

How does 802.11ax work?

The IEEE 802.11ax standard brings together well-performing wireless techniques and blends them in such a way that accomplishes significant achievements over the forerunner 802.11ac standard. Remarkable, it keeps backward compatibility with the old standards as it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

Let’s deep dive into the technology that will make possible 802.11ax:

Speed

In terms of speed, the current 802.11ac offers a maximum rate of 1.3Gbps. Instead, the 802.11ax standard promises a 30% faster top speed, with a maximum transfer speed of 10Gbps. This is true even for high density (outdoors and indoors) environments. However, the speed rate is not the main driver of 802.11ax. The main key selling point for 802.11ax is to solve some of the most enduring problems that WiFi networks face nowadays, including latency and client density.

Radio

At the heart of the new 802.11ax standard, there is the “how” to handle radio frequencies.  The 802.11ax standard operates in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with allocations of 20MHz channels. The channels can be put together in blocks up to the 160MHz channel. Moreover, the 20MHz channels are divided into 256 smaller sub-channels. It is roughly more than 64 sub-channels compared to the previous standard. Consequently, it improves the resolution with which a link can cope with interference, frequency-dependent fading, and so on.

MU-MIMO

MU-MIMO stands for Multi-user Multiple Input/Multiple Output. MU-MIMO, a technology introduced previously in the 802.11ac Wave 2, is another way to handle traffic from multiple devices. Multiple users access the same access point at once without any noticeable decrease in bandwidth quality – until a certain point.

The 802.11ac 4×4 MU-MIMO Wave 2 devices can only handle four users at a time for downloads. Instead, the 802.11ax 8×8 MU-MIMO supports up to eight users downloading and also uploading data at the same time. Each user has a dedicated channel to transmit data.

The enhanced 8×8 MU-MIMO increases overall capacity. Thus, large packets of data are handled more efficiently and transmitted simultaneously, allowing for multiple connections to happen at once. As a result, this feature enables access points to manage traffic from a variety of 802.11ax devices more effectively.

So, it doesn’t matter if people are making use of video calls or streaming HD video, downloading, or playing games. Thanks to 8 MU-MIMO streams, there’s more than enough bandwidth for everybody.

OFDM, OFDA, and OFDMA

OFDM stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing. OFDA for orthogonal frequency division access and OFDMA for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access. All of them refer to methods of frequency-division multiplexing.

Thanks to OFDM, OFDA, and OFDMA, each channel is split into many smaller sub-channels. Each of them with a slightly different frequency. For instance, the standards 802.11a/g/n/ac currently use OFDM for single-user transmissions on 802.11 frequency. Here, the allocation of users is on the time domain. However, the new 802.11ax wireless standard utilizes OFDMA, which is a multi-user version of the OFDM digital-modulation technology, in which users allocation is by time and frequency.

For example, with the OFDM technology, users would occupy all subcarriers for a specific period, even if there’s not much data to send. Instead, with OFDMA, many users can be multiplexed at once, and each of them can use different sets of subcarriers. In consequence, OFDMA is well-suited for low-bandwidth apps, while at the same time, users experience less latency. By around 75% less than with OFDM.

OFDMA, introduced for the first time in wireless networking, is the most crucial multi-user feature available for 802.11ax. It allows multiple client devices with different bandwidth needs to be served at the same time. Instead, the existing devices compete with one another to send data. Consequently, with 802.11ax, there will be no “waiting time” as each device will be simultaneously scheduled to transmit data in parallel.

In a nutshell…

OFDMA does not increase overall capacity. However, it makes use of the capacity more efficiently by allocating subcarriers to users based on their bandwidth needs. If we think again in a high-density environment like airports, stadiums, and shopping malls, for instance, client devices making use of applications that are latency-sensitive like IoT devices and voice traffic will experience a better performance thanks to the way OFDM handles short data packets. The transmission of these data packets is simultaneous, enabling multiple connections to happen at once. Lastly, it allows access points to handle traffic from a variety of 802.11ax devices more effectively.

BSS Color

Another issue affecting WiFi speed in dense environments is mutual interference between access points in the same channel or overlapping groups of channels. BSS stands for Base Service Station, is a feature that reduces WiFi conflicts with neighboring wireless networks through color coding.

WiFi copes with this co-channel interference by CSMA/CA (Carrier Sense with Multiple Access Collision Avoidance), which means that a radio that wants to transmit data first needs to listen to its frequency. If it hears another transmission in the process, then it needs to wait sometime before trying to communicate again.

Therefore, the BSS color, which is a numerical identification between 0 and 7, comes in handy to highlight frames in neighboring wireless networks. AP’s that are too closed on the same channel get a configuration that forces them to use different colors. So, when an AP or client device wants to transmit data, it picks up on a signal within its channel. Then, it checks the color code associated, and if it’s different and the signal intensity is sufficiently low to demonstrate there’s a “low-to-non chance” of interference, then the transmission goes ahead.

The 802.11a wireless standard had the BSS technology to assign a different color to each BSS. Now, it will also be part of the 802.11ax wireless standard.

Target Wake Time

Now, users can reduce the power consumption on devices with target wake time (TWT). The TWT is a mutual negotiation between an access point and a client device about ‘when’ and ‘how often’ the AP will query the client device to send or receive data. This technology allows client devices to go in a low-power mode in-between ‘awakenings.’ At the same time, it significantly enhances the battery life of devices. Lastly, it lets the access points create efficient use patterns to maximize the number of client devices it can handle over time.

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)

QAM is a highly developed modulation scheme extensively used in the modern telecom industry to transmit data over radio frequencies. Currently, the 802.11ac only offers a 256-QAM capacity, which is only reliable for low-dense environments. Hence, the challenge is to ensure fast and reliable WiFi coverage in dense locations, where streaming 4K video or virtual reality content is the average consumption for users.

To overcome the challenge, the new 802.11ax will offer a 4X increased capacity over the forerunner standard. In short, the higher the QAM levels, the more the throughput capabilities in wireless devices. Besides, it comes with 10 bits per symbol vs. 8 bits available in the 256-QAM. “More bits, more data”, and data delivery becomes more efficient.

Consequently, the 802.11ax will have a 1024-QAM capacity that will allow only compatible access points and supported devices, within a network in dense environments to enjoy a +25% speed burst. Put simply, an increase in throughput capabilities for wireless devices.

With millions of connected devices expected by 2021, the throughput capacity of 1024-QAM is essential to ensure the quality of service (QoS) in dense environments.

The next article will discuss devices already available in the market that support the 802.11ax wireless standard, pros and cons, speed tests, and our perspective whether its best to upgrade all WiFi devices -or not, to comply with the new standard.

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The real cost of wireless networks – Calculating TCO

The real cost of wireless networks – Calculating TCO


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The real cost of wireless networks is often underestimated, with negative consequences on the bottom line. Calculating the TCO of WiFi is essential to make informed decisions, ensure ROI, and choose the most suitable technology stack.

The cost of wireless networks over time: why is it important to calculate TCO?

Gartner, the world’s leading IT research and advisory company, defines the total cost of ownership, acronym TCO, as “a comprehensive assessment of information technology (IT) or other costs across enterprise boundaries over time.” 

The keyword here is “over time”. A decision that seems smart today might be wrong in the long run. Let’s take as an example the many users that chose to deploy their networks with Cisco because “nobody ever got fired for buying Cisco.” They likely underestimated OpEx. Later, in times of tight budgets and limited resources, some CIOs and MSPs suffered from being stuck into Cisco’s licensing system, so they decided to switch their networking gear to other brands (like Ubiquiti, often managed with Tanaza).

The hidden cost of wireless networks

The cost of WiFi networks goes far beyond their purchasing price (also called “total cost of acquisition”), which is the amount paid for hardware and software at installation. According to Gartner, 80% of total IT costs occur after the initial purchase. TCO in WiFi networking takes into consideration the purchase costs but also other costs that arise over the lifespan of the units – even the intangible ones. 

However, the choice of technology should not be based only on TCO. It is good to consider the reliability of the system and also, its flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing business needs.

For example, is the system keeping up with the pace of technology advancement? Is it scalable? In other words: does it respond to the growth of WiFi consumption? Is it possible to upgrade the system remotely to get new features? Are new features and innovations introduced frequently?

Which elements to consider when calculating the cost of wireless networks

When calculating TCO, costs divide into capital expenditures (Capex) and operational expenditures (Opex). 

Capex includes:

  • Acquisition costs for hardware: the amount paid to get the wireless access points, cables, switches, hardware controllers, and other networking equipment
  • Acquisition costs for software: the amount paid to get the software licenses, if needed
  • Installation and provisioning costs
  • Initial system customizations

Opex includes:

  • Staff, usually the highest cost item. To calculate this, look at the employees’ salaries and productivity rates. How much time do they spend on troubleshooting the network? Is the technology stack helping them use time efficiently, or is it preventing them from being productive? Is training taking a lot of the staff’s time?
  • Recurring costs: for example, subscriptions for software
  • Server costs, for example, costs of hosting the UniFi Controller on AWS 
  • Service and support, including fees to change the system configurations, expenses for troubleshooting, on-site visits to fix issues and costs for system monitoring
  • Charges for security, upgrades, back-up, and maintenance of the system
  • Costs of downtime and productivity losses
  • Depreciation of fixed assets: depreciation, for example, of your wireless access points and hardware controllers, if you have any (if you are asking yourself what depreciation is and how to calculate it, read this article by ProfitBooks)
  • Electricity, storage, floor space, internet subscription
  • Customization, feature updates
  • Replacement services and warranty 
  • Costs for decommissioning the system and switching to another technology stack

What are the best strategies to reduce the cost of wireless networks?

We’ll mention three best practices to reduce the total cost of ownership of WiFi networks:

 

  1. Cloud managed wireless access points. Cloud management reduces installation costs thanks to zero-touch provisioning; dramatically decreases the time spent by the staff on configurations, monitoring, and troubleshooting; cancels the need for on-site visits. Also, without a hardware controller, there are savings on electricity, floor space; with less hardware comes less complexity and lower replacement costs, as well. The trend towards cloud and the vast advantages of bringing applications to the cloud are widely-recognized (Forbes, 2016). 
  2. Standardize to reduce inefficiencies. Make so that all the wireless equipment is manageable through a single platform because that minimizes the wastefulness of using a multitude of different systems (which relates to training costs, loss of productivity, staff costs, service, and support costs). It makes it easier to analyze data across all the networks. 
  3. Outsource when possible and avoid customizations. Outsourcing some of the operational expenditures (such as maintenance, servers, security, back-up costs) reduces TCO. It’s better to choose a ready-to-use product available on a subscription basis instead of customized solutions. That allows spending time on something more valuable for the business. In the long term, using a SaaS brings a TCO reduction (here is an interesting article by Information Week about the topic).

How does Tanaza reduce the cost of wireless networks, specifically?

Tanaza is absolutely the pioneer of introducing these strategies for TCO optimization in the wireless access points market, allowing up to 60% in savings in 5 years

By using Tanaza’s operating system TanazaOS, wireless access points management happens through a single centralized platform, whatever is their manufacturing brand. Standardization reduces operational expenses, and the freedom to buy multiple brands’ access points reduces CapEx considerably.

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Cloud management provided by Tanaza reduces OpEx throughout the whole life cycle of access points, from installation to configuration and maintenance. Also, it cancels the need for physical hardware controllers installed on-premise (CapEx).

Finally, Tanaza takes care of many operations, including server maintenance, back-up, security patches, and fixes, and ensures high availability (99,99%) of the system for minimum downtime and productivity losses. 

 

Discover more about Tanaza’s cloud management platform for wireless networks

 

What is vendor lock-in? Why should it be avoided?

The vendor lock-in is the ability of vendors of software or hardware to make their customers dependable to them, due to the high switching costs of transitioning to another vendor.

It’s a typical situation in the enterprise wireless market when choosing a vendor typically means being stuck with them for the whole access points’ life, because switching the entire infrastructure to another vendor would be too expensive.

Choosing between being loyal to a hardware vendor or going multi-vendor has substantial consequences on TCO calculation.

On one hand, users might think that going with an established enterprise brand would imply having lower Opex, thanks to the reliability of products and the quality of services offered. On the other side, going for an established brand and being “locked-in” to that vendor usually implies getting stuck in their expensive license system. Also, it makes it hard to innovate or apply changes outside of the vendor’s product and services portfolio: finally, that would result in extremely high (and often unbudgeted) operational expenses.

Finally, without vendor lock-in, the pace of innovation accelerates. In case users want to go for another brand of wireless access points, with Tanaza, that doesn’t imply changing the whole software and hardware infrastructure – just the hardware. Also, Tanaza allows its users to keep up with the pace of innovation, thanks to the continuous release of new features.

 

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The fundamental difference between Tanaza and Tanaza Classic

The fundamental difference between Tanaza and Tanaza Classic


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From a cloud-based management system to a hotspot system, and back. Tanaza’s journey towards creating the next WiFi management platform for service providers and the features that distinguish Tanaza’s latest platform from the Tanaza Classic Hotspot system.

When meeting with Tanaza customers that are currently migrating to our latest Tanaza’s platform, the inevitable questions always pop. “Sebastiano, why do you have two software? And what are the differences between them?” There’s a reason why these customers got confused in the first place.

A bit of history to refresh our beginnings

Tanaza started in 2010 with the first cloud management multi-vendor platform ever conceived. Then, we entered the hotspot business when we released the complete Tanaza Classic feature set. Afterward, we decided to refocus on cloud management for service providers and developed the latest Tanaza platform.

Well…
I tried to answer the questions about our brand name in my previous blog. However, I think there are still a couple of things to clarify on how the features overlap. Particularly now that the two products are integrated and can work together on the same WiFi deployments. I believe it is essential to understand the difference.

What is the difference between Tanaza and Tanaza Classic?

Tanaza

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Tanaza platform, which has the same name as the company.
This platform provides advanced cloud management features, including centralized configuration and remote monitoring, for service providers (check the complete list of features). Also, it will include -currently under development, a very basic splash page with click-through access.

Tanaza Classic

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Tanaza Classic (cloud.tanaza.com, editor.tanaza.com and dashboard.tanaza.com). It is an advanced hotspot system for WiFi marketing, social hotspots, and WiFi monetization. Also, it includes a small set of cloud management features.

When using both products together, it is clear that you can get the best of both products. On one side, a professional enterprise-level product to manage WiFi access points. And, on the other side, a complete set of marketing features.

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However, when using Tanaza you only use the hotspot features included in Tanaza Classic, and not the basic cloud management ones which are outdated, when compared to the latest Tanaza features. Similarly, when using the Tanaza Classic advanced hotspot system, you won’t use the basic click-through splash page included in the Tanaza platform.

The two products also will be available separately to make sure that users can get the most suitable software solution for their needs. In case users want to use the Tanaza platform features, they will need to use one of the compatible access points listed here. Alternatively, they might go for a Cosmo Networks access point.

Instead, in case of users who prefer the Tanaza Classic Hotspot features, they would need to select an access point in the compatibility list, which also includes some legacy and end of life devices.

What’s new at Tanaza: New features

What’s new at Tanaza: New features

RF basics for WLAN design

Can’t keep track of all the new features in the Tanaza WiFi cloud management software? Would you like to get an overview of all the functionalities that have been released recently?

Today, we’ll show you a detailed list of fresh new features from Tanaza. You’ll also learn why the new Tanaza platform is so special. And what’s the new feature that promises customers to speed up the process of installing the TanazaOS operating system.

 

New Year, New Start for Tanaza!

It’s 2020, and it’s a fresh start for us at Tanaza. Last year we witnessed the arrival of six new feature releases that give more edge to our software. Another six new features are on the roadmap for Q1 this year. Furthermore, we are on the verge of launching another project that we will let you know soon enough. But for now without further ado, let us turn to the matter in hand, the new features in Tanaza.

 

 

New Features in the Tanaza WiFi cloud management software

 

TanazaOS installer

It’s a software application that speeds up the process of installing the TanazaOS operating system on supported WiFi access points. Whenever network administrators want to upgrade their existing access points with the Tanaza operating system, the installer facilitates this upgrade.

Users only need to download the TanazaOS installer software. Then, connect the supported WiFi access point to the computer and input the device MAC address. Lastly, the installer will automatically install the right Tanaza firmware on the device.

The TanazaOS installer is available for Microsoft Windows (7 and later versions), and macOS (10.10 Yosemite and later versions).

Learn how to use the TanazaOS installer

 

Roaming on external captive portals

 

Fast Roaming on Wifi Networks

 

This feature allows client devices connected to an access point to maintain captive portal authentication as they roam across different access points. The roaming is managed by the Tanaza cloud, which allows faster session transitioning from one access point to the other.

By maintaining a consistent authentication, users experience a better WiFi connection. There’s no discontinuity in the connection when using applications such as VoIP (i.e., Skype calls) over WiFi.

Learn more about how Tanaza supports Fast Roaming

 

External captive portals with and without RADIUS

This functionality was previously available on the Tanaza Classic platform. As of now, network administrators, using TanazaOS-powered devices, can enjoy the perks of enabling their favorite external splash page. It ranges from in-house captive portals to the likes of Meraki’s captive portal, with or without RADIUS settings.

Moreover, it’s possible to configure the SSIDs at the network level. In this way, it’s extremely easy to provision new WiFi access points in the network. Once a new access point is added to an existing network with one or multiple pre-configured SSID, the device immediately starts broadcasting the default SSIDs without any further provisioning.

 

Multi-hotspot capability

Tanaza currently allows adding a maximum of eight SSIDs per network. Users can also enable multiple SSIDs with splash pages on a single access point.

 

The list of WiFi access points compatible with TanazaOS is growing

We recently added two widely-used WiFi access points from Ubiquiti. Now, UniFi AC Mesh Pro and UniFi AC Lite are part of the list of devices compatible with TanazaOS.

Check the full list of compatible devices with the TanazaOS operating system

 

Tanaza Classic Hotspot and TanazaOS are now fully integrated

 

 

This integration allows TanazaOS-powered devices to have external splash pages enabled on SSIDs, including the Tanaza Classic Hotspot captive portal.

Users can take advantage of the Tanaza Classic Hotspot system with the latest Tanaza WiFi cloud management platform. Tanaza Classic Hotspot includes a complete feature-set for social WiFi, paid WiFi, monetization through advertising, and WiFi-based marketing analytics.

It is worth mentioning this feature requires manual activation.

Learn more about how to activate the Tanaza Classic Hotspot and TanazaOS integration

Try Tanaza


Experience the power of managing WiFi access points from the cloud with Tanaza.

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Before you go! Do you want to know what’s hot for Tanaza in 2020?

Spoiler alert! A groundbreaking product launch is around the corner. A promising alternative list of WiFi access points that will shake the universe and even the Cosmo of Networks.
Intrigued?
Then read the next blog post to find out what’s all the fuss about it. What’s new at Tanaza: Cosmo Networks.