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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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Juniper Networks acquires Mist Systems for $405 million

Juniper Networks acquires Mist Systems for $405 million

Juniper acquires Mist System

Juniper Networks has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Mist Systems, a wireless LAN vendor pioneering AI-driven WLAN, for $405 million.

With this acquisition, announced on March 4th, 2019, Juniper will combine Mist’s WLAN platform with its existing wired LAN, SD-Wan and security systems to provide enterprise customers with a complete solution.

Mist Systems manages its operations via a modern cloud microservices architecture, and its technology includes machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. In early 2018 Mist developed an AI-driven Virtual Network Assistant, Marvis, to simplify wireless operations, and provide insight into client and network behaviour. Mist has also leveraged patented virtual Bluetooth LE technology together with WiFi to deliver location-based wireless services to customers, such as proximity notifications and traffic analytics.

Mist’s acquisition will expand Juniper’s presence in the cloud-managed segment of the wireless networking market and will allow the company to offer a software-defined solution that simplifies operations, lowers operational costs and improves the user experience. Moreover, Juniper plans to leverage Mist’s AI capabilities by extending them across Juniper’s networking portfolio for software-defined architectures.

“With our planned acquisition of Mist Systems, we are not only expanding our enterprise portfolio into the wireless arena but also staking claim to AI-driven operations in the era of multi-cloud,” Juniper CEO Rami Rahim stated in a blog post. “Wireless is the most strategic place to start as we adopt AI for IT. It’s also more than just wireless. AI-driven operations must extend across the whole IT stack if it is to reach its full potential.”

The acquisition of Mist is expected to close during Juniper Networks’ second fiscal quarter, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Over 485,000 Ubiquiti devices exposed to DDoS attack

Over 485,000 Ubiquiti devices exposed to DDoS attack

Ubiquiti Devices Exposed to DDOS Attack

Ubiquiti Networks is currently working on a fix for a recently discovered security issue affecting its devices. This security issue has been exploited by attackers since July 2018.

According to an internet scan conducted by US cyber-security firm Rapid7, this vulnerability affects over 485,000 devices around the world. Most of the exposed devices are located in Brazil, followed by the US, Spain and Poland.

The vulnerability is not specific to one Ubiquiti device, and is found on a wide variety of the vendor’s high-grade WISP equipment. The majority of the exposed Ubiquiti devices are NanoStation, AirGrid, LiteBeam, PowerBeam and NanoBeam products, and 17,000 of these devices have already been defaced.

Jon Hart, senior security researcher for Rapid7, states in a security alert that attackers are exploiting a “discovery service” running on port 10,001. Ubiquiti included it on its devices so that the company and internet service providers (ISPs) can use it to find them on the internet and in closed networks. This service has been exploited by attackers to carry out DDoS amplification attacks.

These attacks were first spotted by Jim Troutman, co-founder of NNENIX (Northern New England Neutral Internet Exchange). According to Troutman, attackers are sending small packets of 56 bytes to port 10,001 on Ubiquiti devices, that are reflecting and relaying the packets to a target IP address amplified to a size of 206 bytes.

The exploitation attempts are still in an initial stage but, according to Rapid7, the amplification factor – that is currently 3.67 – can go up to 30-35. Attackers could find a way to carry out DDoS attacks in excess of 1Tbps, which is described by Rapid7 as “a crippling amount of traffic to all but the most fortified infrastructure”.

At the moment this discovery protocol “does not appear to suffer from multi-packet responses”, as we read in Rapid7’s security alert. This makes exploitation extremely hard as attackers can only “reflect” small amounts of DDoS traffic.

Ubiquiti already announced that it was preparing a security patch even if, in its current form, the protocol does not seem to be particularly harmful.

“To our current knowledge, this issue cannot be used to gain control of network devices or to create a DDoS attack,” Ubiquiti Networks said. “As a temporary workaround for this issue while it is being investigated and resolved by the development team, network operators can block port 10,001 at the network perimeter,” the hardware maker added.

Even though the biggest exploitation attempts have only been discovered recently, Rapid7 said that the first attacks attempting to exploit Ubiquiti’s discovery service were detected last July, when several Ubiquiti users reported problems related to the access of SSH services on their Ubiquiti equipment.

Open Mesh acquired by Datto: what’s next for Open Mesh customers?

Open Mesh acquired by Datto: what’s next for Open Mesh customers?

Open Mesh acquired by Datto

At the beginning of 2017, Datto announced its acquisition of Open Mesh. In this article, we will find out what is going to change for Open Mesh customers after this acquisition from Datto.

About Open Mesh and Datto

Open Mesh Inc., one of the most popular makers of wireless networking devices in the SMB segment, has been acquired by Datto, a data protection vendor that sells its products exclusively through managed service providers. With this acquisition, Datto wants to broaden its offering in the networking sector with the launch of a new line of SMB-focused networking solutions.

The new Datto Networking line of products for small-to-medium sized businesses has incorporated both the Open Mesh wireless access points and Ethernet switching technologies and the existing Datto Networking Appliance and will be delivered exclusively through Datto’s global network of Managed Service Provider partners.

 

What will change for existing Open Mesh customers?

As of January 1st, 2019, customers can still purchase Open Mesh hardware through selected distributors and online resellers, with no recurring fees. However,  the availability of Open Mesh products is only limited to the remaining inventory.

All of the existing Open Mesh hardware has an end-of-life date of 3 years from the end-of-sale date. As for the most recent products, the end-of-life date is December 31, 2021. After that date, no more fixes and security updates will be released for Open Mesh products, and support will be no longer provided.

In the course of this acquisition, Datto Networking has adopted a pricing model which aligns to how MSPs sell their products and requires all new customers to pay a monthly recurring fee, unlike the one-time fee originally set by Open Mesh, which also included a free CloudTrax lifetime license.

Consequently, after the end-of-life date of their purchased products, all current Open Mesh customers are either being forced to upgrade to Datto Networking products and pay the related monthly fees or to switch to an alternative hardware solution. Both of these options represent significant additional costs that ultimately lead to a hardware CAPEX increase.

 

TanazaOS as the alternative to Datto Networking and CloudTrax

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Tanaza wants to help Open Mesh customers to continue using their hardware by making its latest product, TanazaOS, fully compatible with Open Mesh devices. TanazaOS will support Open Mesh access points as well as other hardware vendors, freeing WiFi service providers from vendors’ lock-in.

TanazaOS is a Linux-based Operating System for centralized network management. It was developed based on the disaggregation concept which embraces the open-source approach, where WiFi solution providers have the possibility to decouple their hardware choice from their software choice.

Furthermore, TanazaOS is flexible and unlimitedly scalable, and helps in delivering wireless networking faster.

Enterprises and service provider customers reduce complexities and get complete interoperability at a fraction of the cost of other WiFi solutions.

Open Mesh customers switching to TanazaOS from CloudTrax or Datto Networking will leverage from competitive lifetime license pricing, allowing them to dramatically save on their deployment costs, while also benefiting from a secure, reliable and always up-to-date operating system for WiFi cloud management.

By switching to TanazaOS, Open Mesh customers will be able to:

  • Enjoy a full set of professional features for WiFi management and control
  • Avoid Datto’s monthly fees
  • Easily migrate from CloudTrax/Datto Networking to TanazaOS thanks to the self-provisioning system and the cloud configuration
  • Save money when upgrading their hardware infrastructure as TanazaOS runs on many hardware vendors
  • Have access to learning materials and online support for troubleshooting
  • Benefit from additional features, as TanazaOS is constantly evolving, adding new capabilities such a Hotspot System.

If you are an Open Mesh user and want to know more about TanazaOS and its features, you can try the interactive demo to experience our cloud-based operating system to manage your Open-Mesh access points.

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/

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

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

OpenWRT Wireless Access Points Vendors

The exponential growth in demand for wireless internet connectivity has led to the need, for companies in most business environments, to upgrade their Wi-Fi networking infrastructure.

Many companies within the networking industry aim at establishing lock-in barriers with high switching costs in order to make customers dependent on them. This approach progressively increases Wi-Fi deployment costs for organizations, slows down innovation and ultimately hinders the Wi-Fi user experience.

Recently, the networking industry has began shifting from operating as a proprietary closed system to a more flexible system. This shift to a more flexible, open system, occurred as a result of customer dissatisfaction due to high internet connectivity pricing, vendor lock-in, slow innovation, poor quality software, unforeseen charges for services that should have been included in the price of the product, to name a few.

At Tanaza, we believe that the current market conditions allow the disaggregation of hardware and software to occur also in the Wi-Fi networking market and create a disruption.

Tanaza is an vendor-alternative firmware, based on OpenWRT that supports a wide range of access points. OpenWRT is a Linux-based open source alternative firmware for embedded devices that enables the customization of wireless device, as a result of its fully writable filesystem with package management.

With OpenWRT, the network administrator can avoid being locked by the web interface or the web applications of the vendor.

 

Easy to install and to use, Tanaza may be the best option for you, if you are looking for an easy-to-use alternative firmware for your wireless device.

For more information about Tanaza and its wide range wide of supported access points, click here.

If you can’t find the vendor you are looking for, you can make a request and ask to Tanaza to support a new access point.

 

To see the full list of access point vendors compatible with OpenWRT, check below. 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 873466.

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