Wi-Fi Performance Management - A Beginner's Guide

In recent years, Wi-Fi has become an essential part of our everyday experience. We’ve come to expect Internet connectivity in every space we encounter–from professional sports stadiums to hospitals and schools.

In business, Wi-Fi should be regarded as one of your most important services. For example, if your business is in higher education, your students need connectivity to take notes and complete assignments. If you’re in the hospitality industry, such as a hotel or a restaurant, high quality Wi-Fi is essential for you, your staff, and your customers.

The chances are you provide Wi-Fi in your organization; let’s review what Wi-Fi performance monitoring is and how it works.

Wi-Fi Performance Monitoring Defined

Wi-Fi performance monitoring ensures that the Wi-Fi is available, operating, and performing at its expected level. It should work at all times and under all conditions. The expected level being, at minimum, the coverage and performance that you paid for in your Service Level Agreement.

Monitoring Wi-Fi is a proactive action rather than a reactive one. Monitoring allows you to be aware of your Internet performance and connectivity to ensure consistency and satisfaction. If you opt not to monitor your Wi-Fi and an issue occurs, your business may have to stop operations, and you’ll be at the mercy of those needed to fix the problem.

What’s Being Monitored

What’s being monitored can be broken down into four key categories:

1. The Physical Infrastructure. This includes Wi-Fi Access Points, routers and switches, and connected devices like phones, printers, and point of sales equipment. Typically, the power and connected state of each piece of equipment will be monitored to see if it is alive, connected, and functioning.

2. The Radio Environment. The radio environment determines the strength of the radio frequency (RF) signal level or power received by the equipment, the RF interference in the system, and the RF bandwidth. Notably, a Wi-Fi system’s radio environment can change significantly from moment to moment due to the volume of traffic on the network, the presence of other devices, and even the operation of microwave ovens!

3. Network Connectivity. Network connectivity tells you if you can connect to the Internet or to the person, service, or device that you need. In certain cases, the equipment might be on and the Wi-Fi radio might be working, but you may not be able to get to your service. It’s possible that if the network settings and addresses are not configured correctly, the information you send will go to the wrong place, and service will not be available. A good internet performance measurement solution will regularly check the systems, registers, and settings to ensure continued connectivity.

4. Quality of Services. Wi-Fi allows you to complete many tasks: making phone calls, sending messages and emails, streaming videos, and transferring files and pictures. Sometimes when you connect, the quality of the service is poor; in this case, your phone calls drop, your messages won’t send, your video won’t stop buffering, and your file transfer fails. A comprehensive Wi-Fi monitoring solution will regularly test the quality of each of your important services.

The Importance of Wi-Fi Monitoring

Wi-Fi is an essential part of business operations; this is especially true for mission critical business functions. For example, if the Internet goes down or runs slowly, employee productivity is directly affected. Better wireless performance means better business performance.

If you choose not to monitor your Wi-Fi performance, you risk providing subpar performance, which translates to poorer business performance. As a result, you won’t know when to act until it’s too late, damaging your business operations and possibly its reputation.

This kind of scenario affects your business in both the short- and long-term. For example, if you are operating a sports stadium and your Wi-Fi is slow, vendors may not be able to process credit card transactions. Similarly, airports may not be able to check travelers in, leading to delays. Without Wi-Fi, employee productivity can decrease drastically.

Final Thoughts

Wi-Fi is necessary for today’s businesses to function. It supports everyday activities from students at universities making credit card purchases to hospitals performing life-saving procedures. As a result, internet performance management is an essential, proactive part of ensuring Internet consistency. If you opt not to take this step, you will likely lose out to businesses that do.