When I give presentations on Wi-Fi technology in front of a live audience, I usually do an informal poll about recent experiences people have had with Wi-Fi service. Was it positive/neutral or negative during their most recent hotel stay, their most recent convention/trade show, and where they work. Invariably, the audience responds polar opposite for the first two categories compared to the third. Most people encounter poor or very poor wireless in hotels and trade show environments, but find it acceptable or better in the office, at school, etc.
The results are not surprising, though the dramatic difference usually is. But what this tells us is that wireless networks in more public, dynamic environments are either older wireless networks reaching/exceeding the limits of their capacity or newer networks that were just not designed properly to handle the level of scale being required. Of course the influx of tablets and smartphones is a primary cause – it is a dynamic that has changed things dramatically in just the last 12-18 months.
We keep on – and will keep on – harping on the fact that most Wi-Fi networks are just not designed correctly to handle the increasing and dynamic demands being placed on them. Because Wi-Fi uses a shared communications medium and clients and usage can be so variable, there are not clear-cut criteria on what will work and what won't. This variability can lead to a huge disparity in design – we have seen 2-to-1 and even greater variation in the amount of Wi-Fi capacity spec'ed for the same project by different vendors.
With this in mind, we conducted a webinar this week focused on providing wireless in convention and conference centers where the density of users is high and the dynamics of the environment are significant. We talked about what it takes to build a wireless network that can scale up to 1000's of users and a number of best practices for doing so. It is not cookie cutter design but a solid, successful wireless network can indeed be constructed for these environments. The webinar is not just vendor pitch – there are a lot of general principles shared for achieving optimal performance over wireless no matter what equipment is deployed.
Check out the webinar replay for "Convention and Conference Center Wi-Fi: How to Scale Your Wireless for 100's or 1000's of Users" at: http://www.xirrus.com/Company/Events.aspx#webinars-tab