The Wi-Fi RF Network

What is the Wi-Fi RF Network?

Your Wi-Fi RF Network is the Implementation of the Physical layer (OSI layer 1) in your Wi-Fi network.

In wired Ethernet networks, the Physical layer consists of Category 5 or 6 cabling, patch panels, data outlets and patch cables – which together connect your workstations, printers and servers to your Layer 2 Ethernet Switches.

The Wi-Fi RF Network is the “physical” equivalent of cabling in a Wi-Fi network, and it comprises:

  • The Number and Locations of installed Wi-Fi Access Points (APs)
  • The AP models / types
  • The antenna type(s)
  • The orientation of each AP or antenna – mainly in the azimuth and elevation planes
  • The Transmit Power level of each AP radio (the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz radios)
  • The RF Channel number and the Channel Width used by each AP radio.

Ethernet networks are highly successful because we have standards for physical Ethernet cabling – Cat 5e and Cat 6.

We also have simple-to-use testing tools and standards for testing and certifying Cat 5/ 6 cable installations. 

But what about a Wi-Fi network?

No standards for Wi-Fi RF networks

Most professionals are surprised to learn that, in contrast with Ethernet networks, there are no standards for the Design, Installation or Certification of Wi-Fi networks.

Put another way, there are no Wi-Fi standards equivalent to the EIA/TIA* Category 5/6 standards.

* (The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)).

This is why so many Wi-Fi networks fail to deliver the Coverage, Capacity, Performance and Reliability that users need.

Wi-Fi RF Network Design

You insisted on standards for your physical Ethernet cabling – Cat 5e and Cat 6 – but what about your Wi-Fi network?

What standard was your last Wi-Fi network designed to?

The answer for most Wi-Fi networks is no real standard at all.

There may have been mention of Signal Strength (dBm) in your supplier’s proposal document, and maybe even Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) (dB) .. but these figures alone are effectively meaningless.

Contact LEVER to find out how we can help you evaluate your existing Wi-Fi network, and deploy expertly-designed or re-engineered Wi-Fi networks.

How do you Design a Wi-Fi Network?

Optimised Wi-Fi network design requires expert skills acquired over many years, and these are in short supply in the industry.

Contact us to find out how LEVER design Optimised, Fit-for-Purpose Wi-Fi networks with Guaranteed Coverage, Capacity and Performance.

Whilst you’re speaking with us, ask how we can also cut your CAPEX by up to 30% – no matter which equipment supplier you choose.

What about IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ax?

Standards like 802.11ac – Wi-Fi 5 – and 802.11ax – Wi-Fi 6 – are not standards for Wi-Fi RF network Design.

Like all previous Wi-Fi standards, 802.11ac and 802.11ax simply define network protocols – not how to design and build a Wi-Fi network.

They make no attempt to define, or guarantee, any aspect of Coverage, Capacity, Reliability or Performance.

Wi-Fi network vendors are pushing Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E as silver bullets – promising new levels of performance and reliability.

.. sometimes with “Seamless roaming ” ..

But how can anyone guarantee this when there are no standards for Wi-Fi network Design and Certification?

The Wireless Certification Commission™ (WCC™)

The Wireless Certification Commission™ (WCC™) has defined standards for Wi-Fi network Design and Certification. They’re based on standards developed by LEVER since 2005 and are available free of charge, along with several guides for Procuring a Wi-Fi network.

What is an Optimised Wi-Fi Network?

A network that has been expertly-designed, certified fit-for-purpose, reliable and deployed at least cost.

What is “Auto RF”?

The “automatic RF management” schemes used in enterprise Wi-Fi products control two aspects of the Wi-Fi RF network:

  • the Transmit Power levels
  • the RF Channels

All other aspects of your Wi-Fi RF Network are determined by the Wi-Fi designer and/or network installer and, once your network is installed, it can be difficult, disruptive and expensive to change your network design.

“Automatic RF management” mechanisms on APs or WLAN controllers such as Cisco’s AutoRF and RRM, Aruba’s ARM and other vendor algorithms, are often worse than useless.  Contrary to most vendors’ claims, they are no silver bullet.

Sales spin from Wi-Fi vendors can give the impression that we don’t have to worry much about Wi-Fi network Design or Configuration – because auto RF mechanisms will take care of everything.

But that would be like an Ethernet switch trying to fix your sub-standard cabling – clearly impossible – and so we can see that “AutoRF” mechanisms absolutely cannot “optimise” your Wi-Fi network..

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