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How to calculate WiFi network bandwidth requirements

Network Bandwidth

How to calculate WiFi network bandwidth requirements

Network bandwidth is an essential factor in the design and maintenance of a functional WLAN. When building the infrastructure, you need to make a careful detection of how much bandwidth you will need to plan the right balance between performance and cost correctly.
How can you calculate WiFi bandwidth needs when designing the network? What specific considerations are involved?

In this article, we will present the reasons why it is fundamental to consider and adequately calculate the bandwidth requirements of the WiFi network you are going to deploy, to perform the most reliable network experience.

What is bandwidth in networking?

Bandwidth is the capacity of a channel to transmit data. During the transmission, the information is sent in a binary system, a language that encodes data using only two symbols (often defined as “1” and “0”, or “on” and “off”), each of which is called a bit.

The basic unit of this language, the byte, is composed of 8 bits. The bandwidth determines, therefore, the number of bytes that can be transmitted on the connection. The unit of measurement is the bits per second (bps). For example, a low definition video lasting 15 seconds, weighing 1 Megabyte, can be downloaded from an Internet site on your computer in 3-5 minutes if the connection is made via modem (56 kbps) or ISDN line (from 64 to 128 kbps). The same action takes a few seconds instead if the connection is broadband, like the one with the optical fibers (over 1000 Gbps).

Network bandwidth is the capacity of a network communications link to transmit the maximum volume of data from one point to another over a computer network or Internet connection in a given amount of time, usually one second. Bandwidth has the same meaning of capacity, and defines the data transfer rate.

Bandwidth, though, is not a measure of network speed.

As a matter of fact, the words “bandwidth” and “speed” are often misused as synonymous. The explanation of this misunderstanding can be, in part, due to their use in advertisements by ISPs that refer to speeds when they mean bandwidth. Indeed, speed refers to the rate at which data can be sent, while the definition of bandwidth is the capacity for that speed.

Why is it so important to calculate network bandwidth requirements before deploying a network?

Bandwidth can be compared to the volume of water that can flow through a water pipe. If the pipe is bigger, the water can flow in a massive quantity through it at one time. Bandwidth functions in the same way. So, the more bandwidth a data connection has, the more data it can send and receive at one time.

Consider that in any kind of deployment location, there are bandwidth limits. This means that there is a constraint to space for the data to flow. Therefore, multiple devices in a single area must share the bandwidth. Some devices request much more bandwidth than others. Greater bandwidth is absolutely necessary if proper speed must be maintained on different devices.

When do you need to calculate bandwidth?

Streaming, gaming, and other high usage activities demand a certain amount of bandwidth speed to get the best experience without buffering or lag. And the more bandwidth your network can deliver, the faster your devices will run.

Before you start designing your WiFi network, you should follow some steps to achieve your bandwidth goal.

1. Estimate how many devices will be connected to your WiFi network simultaneously

The majority of mid-high end wireless access points and wireless routers can have 255 devices connected at a time. Nevertheless, just because you can hypothetically connect 255 devices to a single WiFi router/access point doesn’t mean you should.
Each computer or device added to your network will degrade the bandwidth available to the other devices using the same connection. All those devices share the same wireless network and the same Internet connection from your broadband service provider. In this case, the congestion isn’t necessarily with the wireless connections. Still, it is with the amount of traffic or bandwidth that can pass through the Internet router to your broadband service provider.

Example
If you want to estimate how many concurrent devices will be connected, consider, for example, a hotel with 18 rooms for 2 people each. The hotel has 36 guests if it is fully-booked. If each guest has 1.2 devices, you have around 43 devices in total. We can assume that only 20 of 43 can be connected or generate significant traffic at the same time.

2. Calculate the application bandwidth requirement

Your bandwidth requirements also depend on the usage of the Internet your guests perform while being connected to your WiFi network. Some Internet applications, such as web browsing and instant messaging require low bandwidth, whereas other applications, such as video streaming and VoIP calls, require high-level bandwidth usage.

To implement a high-performance WLAN, network designers must consider external variables, such as the applications’ requirements in bandwidth and throughput networks.
Tanaza offers a useful way to calculate the bandwidth requirement of a network. We have created the tool “Access Point Selector” to suggest the ideal access point per location and application type. However, it’s also helpful to estimate the required bandwidth per-user connection. You can try it here.

In the image below, you can check the bandwidth needed and the throughput required for the mainstream applications, such as messaging, e-mails, social media, video calls, VoIP calls, web browsing, file sharing, and video streaming.

Network Bandwidth Requirements

Or if you want to go more specific, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) provides a set of guidelines for Mbps needed based on digital activity.

Alternatively, you can measure the bandwidth requirements by usage. The chart below compares minimum download speed (Mbps) needs for light, moderate, and high household use with one, two, three, or four devices at a time (such as a laptop, tablet, or game console).

Network Bandwidth Requirements by Usage

So, let’s keep the hotel’s example fully booked with a maximum capacity of 36 guests. Assuming each guest has 1.2 devices, you have around 43 devices, of which 35 are connected to the network simultaneously. All of them are browsing different applications.

If you are using our Access Point Selector tool, in a hotel with 35 concurrent users employing chatting/messenger services, e-mail, social media, web browsing, and video streaming, you will have, as a result, an estimated bandwidth per user of 3.33 Mbit/s. This means that the hotel would need at minimum: Location bandwidth – 117 Mbit/s.

3. Calculate network bandwidth requirements

As previously said, the measurement unit for bandwidth is bits per second (bps). But, modern networks have greater capacity. They are mostly measured in millions of bits per second (megabits per second, or Mbps) or billions of bits per second (gigabits per second, or Gbps).

Furthermore, bandwidth connections can be symmetrical when the data capacity is the same in uploading or downloading data, and asymmetrical when download and upload capacity are not the same. In asymmetrical connections, upload capacity is usually smaller than the download capacity.

In addition to testing, you have to calculate how much bandwidth is needed to run all your networks’ applications. To understand how much capacity you need, you must calculate the maximum number of users who might be using the network connection simultaneously and multiply that number times the bandwidth capacity required by each application.

To calculate the bandwidth need required you can use the following formula:

(Application Throughput) x (Number of concurrent Users) = Aggregate Application Throughput

Going back to the hotel example, 

(3.33 Mbps) x 35 concurrent users = 117 Mbps 

Note: the result you get here might exceed the bandwidth that the internet service providers offer.

When calculating your bandwidth needs, it’s a theoretical demand upper bound estimate that can help you to calculate the number of access points needed to support the bandwidth demands in a specific location.

If you want to calculate the number of access points needed in a deployment, check our latest article Network Capacity Planning – Wireless Capacity vs Coverage.

If you are deploying wireless networks, read also WiFi network design – What to take into consideration when designing WLANs, there are many factors to consider to plan out your network deployments thoroughly.

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Easier installation of Classic Hotspot on MikroTik devices from Windows

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Easier installation of Classic Hotspot Firmware on MikroTik devices from Windows

Now it is possible to install Classic Hotspot in a MikroTik device (see the list of compatible MikroTik devices) using a Windows computer in a much easier way than in the past. Our Customer Success team has created a step-by-step guide to walk users through the installation process using some free tools.

Thanks to this new procedure, available since February 2020, installing the firmware on MikroTik devices does not require anymore being physically where the AP is to reset it. Also, a virtual machine is not required anymore and the whole process takes much less time than before.

Read the article How to install Classic Hotspot Firmware on MikroTik devices from Windows.

Compatible MikroTik devices with Classic Hotspot

MikroTik hardware is well-suited for any size deployment. Primarily, the devices are used in the WISP environment. However, the devices also can be seen in enterprise deployments. Overall, the devices are low priced, which allows users to save costs when deploying networks. 

The hardware is easy-to-configure, and when paired with the Classic Hotspot platform, users get a full set of professional features to manage WiFi networks and social hotspots with full software support from Classic Hotspot.

Advantages of using Classic Hotspot with MikroTik devices

By empowering MikroTik devices with Tanaza Classic’s firmware, users get a full set of professional features to manage WiFi networks and social hotspots.

With Tanaza Classic, users can create SSIDs for guests with the social login or email authentication. Also, it allows data collection and insights on customers to run targeted email marketing campaigns. Finally, users can control all networks remotely, from a single dashboard and configure each access point easily.

Have you ever tried to configure a Mikrotik hotspot?
Read the article Mikrotik routers: configuration of a WiFi hospot with login page.

List of MikroTik devices currently compatible with Classic Hotspot

Tanaza Classic supports the following MikroTik devices:

MikroTik hAP AC Lite and hAP AC Lite TC

These devices are dual-concurrent access points, which provide Wi-Fi coverage for 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time. Both devices are suitable for indoor deployments, thanks to their compact dimensions allowing users to install the devices in offices, B&Bs, bars, and also in schools.

The only difference between the two devices is the sleek design of the hAP AC Lite TC device, which can be positioned either horizontally (desktop) or vertically (tower case) to save space. The  hAP AC Lite version can only be placed horizontally.

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MikroTik hAP AC Lite

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MikroTik hAP AC Lite TC

Device Specification Details
CPU nominal frequency 650MHz
Size of RAM 64MB
PoE-out ports Ether5
PoE input Passive PoE
(10-28V input voltage)
Ethernet ports Five 10/100Mbps
Wireless 2.4 GHz standards 802.11b/g/n (Wi-Fi 4)
Wireless 5 GHz standards 802.11a/n/ac (Wi-Fi 5)

MikroTik RB951Ui-2HnD and RB951G-2HnD

The RB951Ui-2HnD is a wireless SOHO AP while the RB951G-2HnD is a wireless SOHO Gigabit AP. Both devices come with a new generation Atheros CPU and more processing power. On the technical side, the differences between these two devices are minimal.

The RB951Ui-2HnD device has five Ethernet ports while the RB951G-2HnD has five Gigabit Ethernet ports. Besides that, both devices have one USB 2.0 port and a high power 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n wireless AP with built-in antennas.

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MikroTik RB951Ui-2HnD

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MikroTik RB951G-2HnD

Device Specification RB951Ui-2HnD RB951G-2HnD
CPU nominal frequency 600MHz 600MHz
Size of RAM 128MB 128MB
PoE-out ports Ether5 N/A
PoE input Passive PoE
(9-30V input voltage)
Passive PoE
(9-30V input voltage)
Ethernet ports Five 10/100 Mbps Five 10/100/1000 Mbps
Wireless 2.4 GHz standards 802.11b/g/n (Wi-Fi 4) 802.11b/g/n (Wi-Fi 4)

MikroTik RBwAP2nD

The  RBwAP2nD is a weatherproof wireless access point. It’s perfect for outdoor installations where wireless access is required. Thanks to its unobtrusive look and sleek design the device can be fixed to any external wall from the inside of the case. It does blend perfectly into any environment, however, it is not recommended for high-density environments.

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MikroTik RBwAP2nD

Device Specification Details
CPU nominal frequency 650MHz
Size of RAM 64MB
PoE-out ports N/A
PoE input 802.3af/at
(11-57 input voltage)
Ethernet ports One 10/100 Mbps
Wireless 2.4 GHz standards 802.11b/g/n (Wi-Fi 4)

MikroTik BaseBox2 RB912G-2HnD

This device is a solid and waterproof outdoor 2.4GHz wireless access point. It comes with two SMA connectors for connecting external antennas. The device also has a miniPCLe slot, which allows users to install an extra wireless card, resulting in a dual band device.

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MikroTik BaseBox2 RB912G-2HnD

Device Specification Details
CPU nominal frequency 600MHz
Size of RAM 64MB
PoE-out ports N/A
PoE input Passive PoE
(8-30 input voltage)
Ethernet ports One 10/100/1000 Mbps
Wireless 2.4 GHz standards 802.11b/g/n (Wi-Fi 4)

Future MikroTik devices compatibility

In 2019 Tanaza released its new platform for cloud management, which adds a new set of features for network managers. The new Tanaza platform is compatible with Tanaza Classic and allows customers to manage, monitor, and control their access points intuitively and easily. 

Customers using Tanaza Classic can switch to the new platform by installing the TanazaOS operating system on their devices. TanazaOS will soon be compatible with the MikroTik devices currently available for Tanaza Classic. Also, many more devices are in the roadmap for the near future. 

Furthermore, the device compatibility will be available to the TanazaOS Installer, a software application developed by Tanaza which allows users to install the TanazaOS operating system on compatible devices. The process is straightforward and does not need any manual procedure.

At Tanaza, we continuously work to support more access points and make WiFi network deployments seamless. Stay tuned, visiting the “What’s next” page where we regularly update about upcoming releases. Alternatively, visit Tanaza’s Blog and read about new features, device compatibility, and industry news. 

Are you ready to test the new Tanaza platform?

Experience the power of WiFi cloud management in seconds with our free interactive demo.

Try our interactive demo
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Why public entities are becoming more supportive of the Open Source approach

Why public entities are becoming more supportive of the Open Source approach

Why public entities are becoming more supportive of open source?

Nowadays, public bodies such as international, federal and state entities are becoming more and more supportive of the open source movement and in general of “open” approaches.

In many countries, such as the US, the UK and France, governments have recommended adopting open-source software in their administrations. Indeed, benefits from open source are particularly well aligned with the objectives pursued by any government:

  • Keeping the IT budget under control: although open-source software is a commercial product and therefore not free of charge, it has a total cost of ownership that is generally lower than proprietary software;
  • Ensuring security and reliability, because the open code allows for complete audits to check for vulnerabilities;
  • Enhancing transparency and innovating to serve citizens better.

Government bodies such as FCC are also recognizing its value by actively contributing back to open source software: indeed, it became the first .gov to contribute to WordPress, the most used content management system.

 

Public entities are also encouraging wireless hardware vendors to allow interoperability with third-party systems based on open source in order to benefit end consumers: indeed, open source firmware can make wireless devices more powerful and more useful, allowing users to implement functions that have been disabled or omitted by manufacturers and ultimately giving them the freedom to customize their hardware. This concept empowers the idea of disaggregation, which means offering the option to select software from one vendor and run it on hardware from a different manufacturer.

In 2016, for example, the FCC required networking hardware vendor TP-Link to support open source firmware on its routers. In a settlement with the FCC, TP-Link agreed to pay a $200,000 fine to be compliant with the rules for the 5GHz band and to allow users to install open source firmware on its routers.

FCC’s rules for the 5GHz band, indeed, require router makers to prevent third-party firmware from changing radio frequency parameters in ways that could cause harmful interference with other devices and services. Router makers could be compliant with these FCC rules by placing limits on what third-party firmware are allowed to do or, alternatively, they could comply by entirely preventing the loading of open source firmware, and this is what TP-Link chose to do. Indeed, TP-Link’s software updates “precluded customer installation of third-party software, including open-source software,” to meet the new 5GHz requirements, the settlement said. In order to avoid further penalties, the settlement required TP-Link to “work with the open-source community and Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers to enable consumers to install third-party firmware on their Wi-Fi routers,” FCC stated.

“While manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers must ensure reasonable safeguards to protect radio parameters, users are otherwise free to customise their routers,” said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “We support TP-Link’s commitment to work with the open-source community and Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers to enable third-party firmware on TP-Link routers.”  

 

At Tanaza, we believe that disaggregation is imminent on the WiFi networking industry and that, considering the new market conditions, the unbundling of hardware and software is the future for WiFi professionals. For this reason, we developed full compatibility with many wireless devices from different vendors, allowing WiFi professionals to choose the hardware they want to work with and therefore to save on infrastructure costs and hardware while avoiding vendor lock-in. Tanaza’s firmware is based on OpenWRT, a Linux-based open-source firmware for embedded devices that enables the customization of wireless access points, as a result of its fully writable filesystem with package management. For more information about Tanaza and its wide range wide of supported access points, click here.

Related articles:

Update 2019: The list of supported OpenWRT Wireless Access Points Vendors

FCC proposes rules for unlicensed use of the 6GHz band

https://www.tanaza.com/tanazaclassic/blog/wifi-6-the-next-generation-of-wifi/

New Tanaza feature idea: dynamic bandwidth allocation for SSID

New Tanaza feature idea: dynamic bandwidth allocation for SSID

The situation

With Tanaza, WiFi network administrators can currently limit the bandwidth for their WiFi networks by controlling the bandwidth per SSID and controlling the bandwidth per client. 

These two features allow WiFi administrators to first, limit the overall bandwidth at the SSID level, and second, limit the bandwidth at the WiFi user level.

Both features aim to allocate the same amount of bandwidth per client/SSID in order to ensure the proper functioning of the WiFi network and offer high-quality services

Furthemore, Tanaza developed the Access Point Selector to help WiFi administrator determine the total amount of bandwidth he needs to provide to his WiFi users accordingly with the level of services. Consider that calculating the right amount of bandwidth is one of the most important steps when deploying a WiFi hotspot, especially for WiFi administrators working in the hospitality sector.

Use case

In the example below, the WiFi administrator limits the available bandwidth to 100 Mbps per SSID, and the bandwidth per user level to 2 Mbps.  In addition, the administrator limits the number of concurrent users to 30. As a result, the bandwidth used by WiFi users is maximum  2×30 = 60 Mbps
This means that about 40 Mbps won’t be used by WiFi users

Bandwidth per SSID, Client and Concurrent Clients per SSID

The solution

Tanaza is thinking about developing a new feature to optimize the bandwidth limit per SSID and per client. The idea is to dynamically assign a higher bandwidth value to each connected user until they reach the maximum bandwidth value configured by the WiFi administrator for that specific SSID.

This way, when a new WiFi user accesses the SSID on the same access point, the bandwidth exceeding the limit configured (in the example: 2 Mbps) will be distributed again according to the new number of concurrent users. In the end, the overall SSID limit will be optimized, allowing WiFi users to enjoy a higher level of bandwidth when the number of concurrent users is low.

If you like the feature of the dynamic bandwidth allocation for SSID, you can upvote the idea on our Feature Lab.

Top 3 cloud deployment models: public cloud vs private cloud vs hybrid cloud

Top 3 cloud deployment models: public cloud vs private cloud vs hybrid cloud

cloud computing

Let’s explain the difference among the 3 main deployment models of cloud computing: public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud.

The cloud can be effectively deployed in many ways by businesses of any size and industry. There are 3 main cloud deployment models that organisations can leverage based on their needs, namely public, private and hybrid cloud.

1. Public Cloud

Public cloud is the most adopted model among enterprises. According to RightScale’s report, the deployment of public cloud increased to 92% in 2018. Under this model, cloud resources are owned, maintained and managed by a third-party provider and can be securely accessed by and shared with many users at once, meaning it operates in a multi-tenant environment. The leading public cloud providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform. For instance, Tanaza is hosted on Amazon Web Services, which guarantees the highest levels of reliability available on the market, and runs on a reliable, secure, highly-available (99,99%) and redundant cloud infrastructure.

The main benefits of public cloud are:

  • Cost-effectiveness: you don’t pay for the hardware/software but only for the resources you use. Also, you save time as you don’t need to worry about maintenance;
  • Reliability: public cloud allows you to host data and services on more than one cloud provider. This way, services can be replicated to avoid failures and outages;
  • Flexibility: people can access the public cloud services remotely from anywhere, no matter where the offices of a company are located, and from any internet-enabled device.

 

2. Private Cloud

Private cloud is a type of cloud computing that delivers services to a single organisation through a specific, dedicated architecture. Under this model, the company itself is responsible for and bears the costs of the acquisition, deployment and maintenance of the cloud resources. According to RightScale’s report, the deployment of private cloud increased to 75% in 2018. The most popular vendors providing private cloud solutions are Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE),  VMware and Dell EMC. Private clouds are generally used among organisations that handle sensitive data and need to critically keep under control their operations, such as government and financial institutions (hospitals, ministries, banks…), big telecommunication carriers, etc.

The main benefits of private cloud are:

  • Total control and customisation of the cloud environment based on the business specific needs;
  • Higher scalability compared to public cloud – at a higher price;
  • Improved security over its data, applications and resources, as private cloud operates on a physically isolated and dedicated architecture.

 

3. Hybrid Cloud

The third model is hybrid cloud, which is a combination of both public and private cloud and allows companies to be more flexible and use more services. In general, a hybrid cloud occurs when a business operating on a private cloud expands and starts using a public cloud, generating in this way a combined environment. Enterprises adopting this model can benefit from the high control and security levels for their operations offered by private clouds and, at the same time, use the additional resources offered by public clouds when they need. Nevertheless, using a combination of both public and private models requires strong IT management and, accordingly, higher investments.

Based on the nature, the size and the scope of your organisation, you can choose the cloud deployment model that better fits your business needs and take advantage of cloud technology.

Are you a carrier or a public institution operating on a private cloud, or you are forced only to use private cloud in your country, and you are interested in using Tanaza? We can help you installing Tanaza on your private cloud! For more information contact us at sales@tanaza.com.

New feature available: bandwidth control on a per user-level

New feature available: bandwidth control on a per user-level

Bandwidth Control One a Per User Level

Tanaza just released a new feature: the bandwidth control on a per user-level.

Tanaza already features the bandwidth management per SSID, which means that WiFi administrators can limit the total amount of bandwidth available for one SSID.

  • Example: in a Hotel with only two guests.
    A WiFi administrator configures an SSID with a maximum bandwidth of 10 Mbps.
    If the first guest could use 7 Mbps, the second guest will only be able to use the 3 Mbps remaining.
    The bandwidth is not shared equally among WiFi users.

 

What is the difference with the bandwidth control per user?

The bandwidth control per user means that a network administrator can limit the amount of bandwidth one user can use on the WiFi network.
The limit is set at the user level and not, at the global level (SSID). 

The capability to specify the bandwidth users can access will guarantee the same users’experience; the bandwidth is divided equally among WiFi users. Also, Tanaza’s Bandwidth Control per Client feature comes with a “boost” function, which allows hotel guests to exceed the bandwidth limit for a few seconds when they use a WiFi service.

  • Example: in a Hotel with only 5 guests.
    A WiFi administrator limits the bandwidth of the Hotel SSID at 10Mbps.
    Besides, he limits the bandwidth per WiFi users at 2Mbps.
    Each guest will have the possibility to use until 2Mbps while browsing. The bandwidth is shared equally between guests.

This new feature should solve issues especially for WiFi networks deployed in hotels where the WiFi users experience is significant.

 

Bandwidh control per user