Requirements Lead to Better Wi-Fi

Rowell Dionicio

Coverage is a given. Wi-Fi is much more than coverage today. You demand more from your Wi-Fi network, such as reliability, location-based services, and analytics. Your business relies on mobile users instantly collaborating. 

But how do you deploy new Wi-Fi infrastructure with minimal disruption? Within our wireless network lifecycle, we discuss the topic of defining requirements for a successful Wi-Fi implementation.

Business Requirements

Supporting everyday business functions and building a competitive advantage is the reason we deploy Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi allows for mobility between individuals and teams, encouraging collaboration, and creating high levels of efficiency. 

The consideration of Wi-Fi solutions relies on the business requirements. When working with universities, we’ve heard things such as connecting every student wirelessly. Or in a warehouse, it could be providing seamless mobility for pickers using handheld scanners.

Today, organizations want to get insights from the Wi-Fi network, striving beyond connectivity. Because of the pandemic, location-based services became critical in identifying occupancy levels in a building.

For public-facing venues, a requirement may be tracking the number of engaged users over Wi-Fi and implementing frictionless connectivity to allow users to open mobile apps for fan engagement.

When speaking about various requirements, there are critical use cases that become uncovered.

For example, a sports team’s marketing department may want to push Wi-Fi users to open a mobile app, and use augmented reality throughout the facility or use geofence filters inside of Snapchat to share their experience on social media. 

Technical Requirements

On the opposite side of business requirements, there are the technical requirements for the IT department. It’s a toss-up of which solution provides for today’s challenges but also tomorrow’s. 

IT is migrating towards cloud-native solutions, and Wi-Fi is no exception. Cloud-native Wi-Fi allows teams to get past the issues of maintaining controllers, associated servers for management, and the headaches of implementing firmware upgrades. 

Support from the vendor is high on the list of requirements. IT wants a partner to work with who can squash software bugs and guide them through challenging issues.

A Wi-Fi solution must fit in with operations and their existing capabilities but provide more with less. Integration must be straightforward to address all of IT’s pain points or the constraints imposed upon IT regarding mounting access points.

Device Types

Wi-Fi infrastructure shouldn’t be the only focus in this phase of the wireless network lifecycle. We must examine the types of devices on the Wi-Fi network.

The most critical devices (handheld scanners) have long refresh lifecycles in warehouses—many years behind today’s device standards, such as our iPhones or Android devices, replaced yearly. 

Considering the device’s Wi-Fi components’ age, network engineers must tune the Wi-Fi network for operability with older handheld scanners.

In a lab or research environment, IoT devices do not require high bandwidth but need a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Every device operates differently on a Wi-Fi network. The disparity between devices forces a network engineer to analyze and understand device characteristics, testing mobility across access points, security capabilities, and more. 

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