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We are often asked by our partners, Wi-Fi resellers, System Integrators and Managed Solution Providers which are the best practices and tools to design and troubleshoot a WLAN. This is a great guide by WildPackets.


Getting the Most from Your Wireless Network

Wireless networks require the same kinds of analytical and diagnostic tools as any other LAN to maintain, optimize, and secure network functions with one notable exception. In a LAN environment, all signals are conducted over a fixed, well-defined and “electrically stable” network of cables. This is in stark contrast to wireless networks, where signals are transmitted using Radio Frequency (RF) technology. Radio frequency waves propagate outwardly in all directions from their source, and are very sensitive to disruption or interference. The quality of the transmitted signal varies over time and space—even if the source and destination remain fixed. The path between the source and destination also has a very significant impact on the quality of the resulting communication. Open propagation of data means that anyone can receive the data, even those not “connected” to the network, making security a far bigger issue for WLANs. The use of unlicensed spectrum by 802.11 also increases its vulnerability to interference, as it must share its available bandwidth with non-802.11 devices, including Bluetooth, cordless telephones, and microwave ovens.

Fortunately, the 802.11 WLAN standard offers even more data for monitoring and analysis than any of the other members of the 802 family of protocols. WildPackets® provides a wide range of products that take advantage of this, enabling the creation of highly flexible, cost-effective wireless network analysis solutions. Also, new technologies are being developed to simplify the identification and mitigation of interference sources by analyzing the 802.11 physical layer—the actual RF environment that is the transmission network. This white paper describes four broad areas in which the WildPackets wireless network analysis solutions can be of particular use: network planning, management, administration, and troubleshooting.