Why delivering great Wi-Fi is hard, and how to fix it

A great Wi-Fi solution starts with high performance and easy to manage infrastructure. Find out how Ruckus’s networking technologies can help.

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CommScope supplied

Enterprise networking vendor Commscope is on a mission: to help IT managers and network admins deliver great Wi-Fi. That is easier said than done, but Commscope says its Ruckus networking technologies make the difference.

Delivering great Wi-Fi to a lot of people in the noisy and changing environment is not an easy task – ask anyone that has attended a large conference (or the poor network admins in the background tearing their hair out trying to get the network working.)

There are many factors that can cause building, campus or enterprise-wide Wi-Fi to be flaky. If the underlying network isn’t up to the task when the trouble tickets start pouring in, IT is in for a world of pain.

Ruckus has written an extensive guide about why it is so hard to deliver great Wi-Fi, looking at topics ranging from high density of user population, badly implemented roaming between access points, poorly managed RF bands leading to congestion, Wi-Fi unfriendly building materials, security and authentication models, and so on.

The guide includes detailed explanations of how to fix these problems, including Ruckus’ own approach to tackling them from a technology perspective. It’s truly illuminating reading.

The importance of the underlying switch

In any modern wireless network (whether Wi-Fi or cellular), one of the keys to getting good throughput is smaller cell sizes, with ample wired backhaul. If that backhaul is too slow or is relying on congested upstream infrastructure, it doesn’t matter how good the radio interface is.

This is one of the reasons the underlying Ethernet switch is so important to delivering solid Wi-Fi – the latest Wi-Fi standard, WiFi 6 or 802.11ax and future wireless technologies can actually exceed the connection performance of the Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switch ports.

The Ruckus ICX switch range offers 2.5 GbE and 5GbE multi-gigabit connections even in the entry-level switch, providing the performance needed to support 802.11ac Wave 2 and 802.11ax access points. Other switches provide ports up to 10 GbE to support future Wi-Fi standards.

But with switches pumping out data to access points at up to 2.5 GbE or 5GbE speeds, what about the upstream network infrastructure needed to aggregate all that traffic back into the network? 

The entire Ruckus ICX switch range is stackable, allowing up to 12 switches to be connected together using standards-based technology – regular Ethernet cables and fibre optic cables, up to 10km apart, at speeds of 10, 40 and 100 GbE. There are no dedicated ports required for stacking and no costly optional add-on modules.

Powering the access points connected to the switch is also a key concern. While Wi-Fi-6 (Or known as 802.11ax) requires power of up to 30 watts for advanced mode, newer Wi-Fi standards under development require even higher power. Ruckus ICX switches already have the hardware support up to 90 watts per port (from a 1500W per switch power budget). Ruckus ICX switches are IEEE 802.3bt (90 watts) ready and can support it via firmware upgrade.

Speaking of firmware upgrades, they can be done without stack-level downtime – through Ruckus’ converged SmartZone Network Controller interface, switch stacks can be upgraded in a controlled manner, one switch at a time, without overall stack downtime.

This converged management interface allows large networks to be managed easily and quickly. When Ruckus ICX switches are paired with a Ruckus Wi-Fi, network admins get the benefit of converged management – everything from Wi-Fi network to Ethernet switch stacks can be monitored and managed through a single interface.

Securing the enterprise network is more important than ever too. Most Ruckus ICX switches support up to 256-bit MACsec encryption, IPsec tunnel, fine-grained security controls for DHCP snooping, DOS protection and more.

Delivering consistently great Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi makes a promise of simplicity, but delivering it in enterprise is anything but!

Ruckus’ networking technologies can overcome challenges like dense environments, interfering devices and congested bands, client mobility and network security.

Its existing customers say so too – Gartner Peer Insights named CommScope as a January 2020 Customers’ Choice for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure.

A great Wi-Fi solution starts with high performance, easy to manage infrastructure. Find out more about the Ruckus ICX switch range.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.