SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk has worked in past roles as director of IT for a multisite health care firm; president of Telecomworx,...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Matt Brunk | February 26, 2016 |

 
   

Wi-Fi Gone Wrong

Wi-Fi Gone Wrong Here's a look at an installation that had great Wi-Fi saturation, but in the wrong place.

Here's a look at an installation that had great Wi-Fi saturation, but in the wrong place.

In my last post, "Chaos in the Cabling," I wrote about common cabling problems that crop up when installations ignore building codes and best practices. Here's another example showing that Wi-Fi deployments have their issues, too.

An overreliance on heat mapping, used to pinpoint network activity and plan Wi-Fi coverage, is one issue. Another is failing to take basic construction principles into account. Radio frequency is able to penetrate many areas. Understanding that certain materials and construction methods may impact signal penetration is key, but then so is an understanding of what it is that you are trying to penetrate.

In the client installation I'm sharing today, a campus building is shaped like a flat U and the wireless access points (WAPs) are managed in the cloud.

The main two-story classroom building, of early 1960's construction, resembles a motel. It has no windows on the front, and just a door for access at each end of a room. Glass windows fill the backside walls. The WAPs sit outside the classrooms under an extended eave that creates a porch-like feeling with plenty of cover from the weather elements. These outdoor-rated WAPs are mounted on the concrete block structure at about a height of eight feet.

Complaints about the Wi-Fi network include slow speed, inability to get access as needed, and general unreliability. But before I could resolve any problems, I had to walk the campus and discover what connects, and where. This would help give me a sense of the issues at hand.

Because the WAPs are mounted to concrete block and outdoors, penetration into the classrooms is poor. However, because the backside walls have all those windows, the signal is excellent in the building's green space, or courtyard. Unfortunately, classes are held inside, not outside.

Since glass is easier to penetrate than concrete block, the campus needed more WAPs to create an improved coverage on the backsides of the main classroom building. The thick concrete walls between the classrooms makes indoor antennas a lesser choice.

Overall, the campus needed more WAPs to facilitate connectivity and provide a good blanket of coverage. We mapped the distances between buildings and took measurements of buildings on a basic floor plan, and determined where to add more WAPs.

In our legwork we also discovered other problems, and tackled those, too. These included:

  • Power - Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches powered only three WAPs, and only one of the PoE switches connected to an uninterruptible power supply. Injectors connected to external-outdoor power receptacles powered the other antennas. Not only was this foolish but also a blatant code violation since the transformers negated use of the protective covers of the outdoor weather-resistant receptacles.

  • Firewall - All of the WAPs used a cloud-based firewall to restrict access to certain websites. The onsite firewall had content filtering and other security services enabled, but administrators, teachers, and students were prevented from reaching legitimate websites.

  • Bandwidth throttling - The Internet link underserved the entire campus, and with bandwidth throttling enabled on "Student" and "Guest" SSIDs, students weren't able to connect. The slow and sluggish experience, which delayed classroom instruction and inhibited interaction, was compounded by the two firewalls fighting with one another.

  • Security - The domain server was misconfigured, the SSIDs were not in virtual LANs, and the group policy and permissions in Active Directory were loosely implemented. Overall, security was poor.

  • Improper material - Indoor Cat5E plenum cabling was used, even though all cabling is in an outdoor environment subject to the weather-related and even physical disruptions since no conduit was used.

Again, these kind of installations put customer faith in the technology on the curb. Had the installing company paid attention to building codes, best practices, and common sense, these problems would never have popped up. Avoid these pitfalls, and don't rely on what vendors tell you -- test everything.

Follow Matt Brunk on Twitter and Google+!
@telecomworx
Matt Brunk on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.