Wireless Network Solutions
A wireless network allows devices to stay connected to a network without the requirement of a wired connection. Wireless networks utilise Access Points to amplify and spread wireless signals that allow user devices that can hear the signal to connect to the network – regardless of where they may be. Continual enhancements to wireless performance have resulted in higher speeds and support for more devices. As years have passed wireless networks have become increasingly accessible, and are now found in most places around the World.
In order to add a wireless network to a site(s) a lot of organisations will work with skilled companies who supply enterprise-grade solutions that will meet their site requirements taking into account their size, structure and requirements. Net-Ctrl is one of these organisation. We are a value-add technology reseller that has been designing, installing and supporting wireless network solutions since 2009.
Wireless is not a “one size fits all approach” and that is why we always take a consultative approach to business. Our role is to find what is important to your organisation, to advise you on best practice and to supply, install and support solutions and services that meet your demands. We understand that each of our customers is unique so finding the right balance of cost, functionality and performance is key to our recommendations and your final choice.
Wireless tends to generate a lot of questions – we have included a selection of common questions below. If you have a question that is not listed, please do get in touch and we will be happy to assist. You can do so by visiting our Contact Page, or by activating the chat box in the bottom right corner. Please note this is only available during working hours.
Below we explore some common wireless questions and discuss our approach.
How Does Wi-Fi Work?
A wireless network sends signals using radio waves, which make them very similar to mobile phones and radios in that sense. A wireless device receives a radio wave from the router and then transforms it into a digital signal, consisting of 1s and 0s. When it is time for the device to send something out to the network, it takes digital information and converts it to radio waves, which are then converted back to 1s and 0s by the receiving network device.
When a wireless router gets a signal, it first has to decode it. After decoding, the router sends the information along to the internet through Ethernet, which is a special physical connection consisting of sets of wires that work together.
As the radios inside the router and devices transmit information, they use specific frequencies, such as 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Even though a wireless network may be operating in the same room as a mobile phone or radio, the signals do not clash because the frequencies of wireless networks are far higher than those of other common radio-based devices. Also, because the frequency is higher, the signal can carry more data, making it possible for higher-resolution images to move across the network at faster speeds.
How do I know if I need a new wireless solution?
Typically speaking, it will be your users who tell you whether you need a new wireless solution. The wireless is there to serve your clients, and if it’s not doing that I’m sure you will soon find out about it. Common reasons behind wireless network upgrades include:
An outdated system that can’t deal with your client density, or site size – each year more devices come onto a wireless network. It might be you’re using an older wireless solution which can’t cope with the current client demands.
The environment has changed so the signal does not reach where it once did – perhaps new walls have been introduced, or building materials like insulation or soundproofing added. This will affect your wireless signal performance.
Overpopulation of APs due to lack of planning – the biggest cause of wireless interference is wireless itself. If over the years new APs have been added throughout the site this could be impacting your wireless performance and user experience.
You can no longer buy compatible Access Points for your deployment – every Access Point has a lifecycle and as new standards and firmware are released some APs will eventually no longer be supported, and compatible Access Points no longer available. Net-Ctrl will always review your options in this scenario and provide your options.
Reasons like the above are very common. Before a decision is made as to whether you should upgrade, speak to a company like Net-Ctrl who can review your deployment with you to understand why you may be experiencing the issues. We can also perform wireless assessments of your current installation that may highlight areas to improve or even the causes of interference.
What are wireless standards?
You will hear a lot about different wireless standards. Various IEEE 802.11 standards have bee developed over the years, with each new release we see greater improvements that result in greater performance and client connections. Some of the most recent standards allow for multiple input and multiple output – this is commonly referred to as MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), and even more recently MU-MIMO (multiple user, multiple input, multiple output). We have covered this in a separate section below.
The following table provides a breakdown of each wireless standard.
|IEEE WLAN Standard||Radio Frequency||Description|
|802.11||2.4 GHz||Speeds of up to 2 Mbps|
Speeds of up to 54 Mbps
Small coverage area
Less effective at penetrating building structures
Not interoperable with 802.11b and 802.11g
Speeds of up to 11 Mbps
Longer range than 802.11a
Better able to penetrate building structures
Speeds of up to 54 Mbps
Backward compatible with 802.11b with reduced bandwidth capacity
Data rates ranging from 150 Mbps to 600 Mbps with a distance range of up to 70 m (230 feet)
APs and wireless clients require multiple antennas using MIMO technology
Backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g devices with limiting data rates
Provides data rates ranging from 450 Mbps to 1.3 Gbps (1300 Mbps) using MIMO technology
Up to eight antennas can be supported
Backward compatible with 802.11a/n devices with limiting data rates
Released in 2019 (latest standard)
Also known as High-Efficiency Wireless (HEW)
Higher data rates and increased capacity
Handles many connected devices
Improved power efficiency
What is MU-MIMO?
MU-MIMO describes a set of multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technologies for wireless communication. MU-MIMO was first introduced to the wireless world in 2015 as part of the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard, with the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) protocol adding MU-MIMO support for uplink. MU-MIMO can be used in networks where a single access point (AP) must communicate with multiple clients simultaneously to improve overall efficiency.
MU-MIMO (Wi-Fi 5/802.11ac)
MU-MIMO allows an access point to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. It is part of the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Wave 2 standard. With MU-MIMO, an access point or a wireless router can communicate with multiple network clients at the same time – thus increasing the speed of the data transfer without congestion. A significant advantage of MU-MIMO is its support for transmitting data from an AP to devices in a downlink connection. In addition, MU-MIMO reduces the delay for each end-device receiving the data and enhances the device connectivity between multiple end users.
However, MU-MIMO also has certain limitations. Its functionality works only within the 5GHz band, as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) is defined only in this band. In addition, MU-MIMO works only when transmitting data from an AP to a client in downlink transmissions – and does not operate in reverse. Moreover, MU-MIMO supports only a limited number of simultaneous data streams.
MU-MIMO (Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax)
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) leverages the multi-user version of OFDMA and MU-MIMO for better efficiency of uplink and downlink transmissions. OFDMA allows the transmission of big chunks of data over a single noisy channel. This technique works by splitting a single signal into multiple smaller signals that are transmitted. The combination of OFDMA and MU-MIMO allows Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) to achieve increased capacity, improved coverage and performance in ultra-high-density environments.
UL MU-MIMO is a new key feature introduced with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). By leveraging UL MU-MIMO, multiple clients connected to the access point will be able to send acknowledgment responses (ack) simultaneously, thus saving airtime. This ultimately improves network throughput and efficiency.
Another important Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) feature is its support for 20MHz-only clients. This is particularly beneficial for low-cost IoT devices that require low power and pack very small batteries. In contrast, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) mandates 80MHz clients. The Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) protocol enables simultaneous upstream and downstream MU-MIMO data transmissions on the same frequency. This results in higher Wi-Fi performance, especially in higher-density environments such as stadiums, convention centers, transportation hubs and auditoriums.
What wireless solutions does Net-Ctrl work with?
At Net-Ctrl we have specialised in working with a wireless solution manufacturer called Ruckus.
Ruckus offers a complete line of high-performance network access infrastructure. The Ruckus product portfolio includes Wi-Fi controllers, indoor and outdoor access points, wired Ethernet switches and an IoT suite. In addition, Ruckus also offers network security, detailed analytics, open APIs and management software.
Ruckus’ commitment to innovation is one of the bedrock values of the company. They’re continuously innovating across both wireless and wired technologies to meet the evolving needs of their client base. Their deep history of technical innovation means superior and ubiquitous connectivity for our customers.
This is what the Ruckus is all about. High-performance, secure and reliable access to applications and services – no matter how demanding the environment. When connectivity really matters, people turn to Ruckus.
More information on the Ruckus portfolio is available on our Ruckus partner page.
How do you plan a new wireless network?
With any new project it is important to take a step back and ask yourself, why am I doing this, what is my end goal. A lot of the time the reason for looking for a new wireless network is that you’re running an older network that isn’t up to the current demands of your users, it may be that you’re experiencing a number of black spots, areas where you’re not receiving a wireless connection, or it could just be that you have been allocated some budget to make improvements and plan for the future, it is important to take this time to review what you want to get out of your investment.
Once you have decided on your end-goal(s), the next step is to plan. Review your options with technologies, and look to see whether you should engage with a company like Net-Ctrl to assist you with your project. Working with someone like Net-Ctrl means that you can benefit from their experience and support mechanisms. A number of manufacturers also don’t sell directly to the market so you need to work with companies like us in order to facilitate the transaction.
Should you engage with Net-Ctrl our initial approach is to discuss your current circumstances, understand your current pain points, and also your end goal(s). We would also discuss other factors that would potentially affect the project and overall investment required, including whether you have PoE/PoE+ across your site, whether this will be sufficient for a new deployment, are there available Data Points to use to power the deployment etc. The next step is to perform a wireless survey. It is virtually impossible to consider all the variables that might affect the RF pattern and performance of your WLAN. Changing your environment or adding additional wireless devices (speakers, cameras etc), might seriously impact your WLAN performance.
Net-Ctrl has a dedicated internal wireless technical team that is available to help you get the WLAN your organisation demands. Whether you’re preparing for a new deployment, or want to troubleshoot your existing solution, we can help. We undertake four different wireless surveys which you can learn more about on our dedicated wireless surveys page.
Once an initial survey has been completed, we would put a number of options forward which would solve your pain points and allow you to meet your end goals. From there we will take a consultative approach to your project and ensure you’re supported throughout the project lifecycle.
How can I manage my wireless network?
This will vary depending on the solution you use. At Net-Ctrl we partner with Ruckus.
Ruckus and Net-Ctrl offer an expansive network management and control portfolio that addresses the feature, capacity and architectural requirements of organisations of all types and sizes. The common element: networking simplicity.
Net-Ctrl Cloud – Net-Ctrl Cloud is our own hosted wireless solution utilising the Ruckus virtual SmartZone in our own virtual environment. This allows Net-Ctrl to manage and host your wireless networking, whilst providing you, and your team with management access. This is ideal for environments that don’t have their own virtual environment or the means to manage their own deployment.
RUCKUS Cloud—RUCKUS Cloud is an AI-enabled, converged network management-as-a-service platform that enables IT to deliver exceptional user experiences. With RUCKUS Cloud, “lean” IT organizations can easily provision, manage, optimize, and troubleshoot a high-performance enterprise wired and wireless network via a single web dashboard or native mobile application.
RUCKUS Unleashed—RUCKUS Unleashed is a high-performance, simple-to-setup, easy-to-manage and affordable portfolio of access points. With built-in controller functionality, there’s no need to invest in a separate appliance. You can manage your entire network from your phone or web browser. Deploying at multiple sites? Manage all your Wi-Fi networks from one place through the Unleashed Multi-Site Manager.
RUCKUS ZoneDirector—RUCKUS ZoneDirector controllers feature a highly-intuitive web user interface to make configuring and administering the entire WLAN a breeze. It delivers several wireless LAN features not found in any other centrally-managed systems, including capabilities like automatic traffic redirection, adaptive wireless meshing, rogue AP detection and advanced Wi-Fi security features and extensive authentication support. RUCKUS ZoneDirector is widely considered the simplest, most straightforward centralized WLAN software solution there is.
RUCKUS SmartZone—SmartZone network controllers simplify network setup and management, enhance security, minimize troubleshooting and ease upgrades for networks built on RUCKUS access points and switches. It doesn’t stop there. Whether you’re building complex multi-geo networks or delivering multi-tier managed networking services, SmartZone network controllers deliver the scale, flexibility and openness to support the most sophisticated deployment scenarios.
Features and Benefits
- Controller, controller-less, and cloud-managed options
- Public cloud and private cloud options
- Physical or virtual appliance
- Scalable and resilient