February 12, 2016

Making a (Helpful) Ruckus in the Community

Wendy By: Wendy Stanton, Marketing Communications Manager

 

Ruckus Wireless is committed to giving back to the community. Team building and giving back to the community is at the heart of our organization. We are happy to announce that in 2015, Ruckus employees raised more than $12,000 for a local charity, Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). CCI is a non-profit organization that uses highly trained canines to assist veterans, children and adults with disabilities. CCIRuckus_Salina

Service dogs do more than help those with vision and hearing impairment. These specially trained dogs can help people with power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, those with various types of autism, in need of seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues such as low blood sugar, or anyone with psychiatric disabilities. People rely on these precious dogs to help them with many daily tasks that we take for granted. The dogs really are “best friends” to the people they support.

We are pleased that our donation will help someone in need to live a better life. The donation allowed us to name one of the CCI puppies—a black Labrador retriever—and we decided on Ruckus! He is adorable and sure to put a smile on his new owner’s face. He came to visit us at the Ruckus Wireless headquarters in Sunnyvale where our employees had a chance to get to know him and pet him. Of course, this resulted in many wanting to take him home. CEO Selina Lo even spent some quality time with Ruckus.

So, as Helen Keller so eloquently put it, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Changing the lives of those in need, Ruckus (the dog AND the company) is making that happen.



 

February 11, 2016

Bringing Fast, Reliable and Secure Wi-Fi to the MDU

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 1.48.40 PM By: Wendy Stanton, Marketing Communications Manager 

In the multi-dwelling housing market, amenities are king! This message is consistent across the board within condos, student housing and assisted living management organizations where everyone understands that potential tenants want one thing: amenities. And in this day and age, the number one tenant amenity is Wi-Fi. Whether it is a young professional who works from home, a student accessing course content, or senior citizens needing to communicate with health care providers—all have the need to stay connected.

This type of housing can create many challenges for Wi-Fi due to high density, large indoor/outdoor coverage areas and multi-story buildings. However, property owners have seen the need to provide reliable broadband and wireless services to residents to make their properties desirable. Copper Mountain, one of Colorado’s premier ski resorts, did just that. Management wanted guests to have the best overall visitor experience while staying at the resort. Hosting close to one million skier visits per year, Copper Mountain has 38 individual condo buildings for a comfortable vacation any time of the year. Its legacy network was not providing enough bandwidth and had poor coverage so the resort turned to Ruckus Wireless.

 

The upgraded infrastructure leveraged a mix of the Ruckus ZoneFlex™ R300 and R500 802.11ac access points within the lodging to allow for three to four devices per bed. With the challenging environment, Ruckus’ patented adaptive antenna technology, known as BeamFlex+, provides thousands of antenna patterns and supports horizontal and vertical polarization allowing for up to three times performance increase. Covering the outdoor common areas, ResortInternet installed Ruckus ZoneFlex T300 and enabled control of all access points using the Ruckus SmartZone controller. To learn more about how Copper Mountain is benefiting from the superior performance of the Ruckus products, check out the case study and video.

 

 

February 08, 2016

Spectrum 101

Spectrum-101

A tremendous amount of ink has been ‘shed’ over the last 3+ years debating the various technical proposals for LTE operation in unlicensed spectrum (Ruckus has certainly weighed in when we’ve had something worthwhile to say). But maybe it’s time to back up and reexamine why these proposals are so contentious in the first place. And that will take us up to a 100,000- foot view of spectrum – how it is managed and how it is utilized.

Spectrum is managed and allocated by policymakers and/or regulators, with different countries and regions having their own unique approaches. For the sake of illustration, let’s look at the US. In the US, responsibility for spectrum management is given to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and to the FCC, with the NTIA overseeing federal spectrum usage (for DoD, NASA, etc.) and the FCC overseeing commercial and other non-federal usage. Spectrum allocated by the FCC for commercial uses can further be broken down into licensed and unlicensed categories.

So, this leaves us with a US spectrum management and allocation structure roughly like this:

NTIA

  • Federal Spectrum Uses

FCC

  • Commercial Licensed Uses
    Commercial Unlicensed Uses
    Public Safety, Health, Education Uses (non-Federal)

Not surprisingly, the services that have been developed to use these different types of spectrum have been tightly aligned with a specific category. For instance, over-the-air TV, broadcast radio, cellular and commercial satellite services have made use of dedicated licensed spectrum; while cordless telephones, garage door openers, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have made use of shared unlicensed spectrum.

This is one reason that proposals to link unlicensed usage with a licensed spectrum holding are hard for some to accept, because, ‘it’s never been done that way before’. But perhaps these proposals are also highlighting one of the limitations such a strict spectrum management regime imposes. And the need to identify additional spectrum for commercial uses is drawing attention to another issue with the current paradigm—some previously allocated bands (especially some allocated for federal use) are very lightly used, or not used at all in many locations.

Which will set us up nicely for a follow on introduction to coordinated shared spectrum (CSS) regimes. These new spectrum management proposals will provide regulators with an option to allocate bands for flexible use, spanning the entire range of needs from federal to commercial (both licensed and unlicensed).

AUTHOR: Dave Wright, Advanced Technologist

February 04, 2016

College students need food, sleep… and Wi-Fi. [VIDEO]

Evangel

How important is Wi-Fi to education? When it comes to earning a college degree, reliable Wi-Fi is essential. Students want to be connected anywhere, any time in classrooms, dorm rooms, student centers, stadiums, or just walking across the quad.

Reliable Wi-Fi is not only fundamental in promoting consistent learning, but it is also a major factor when students are selecting a school. Why? Because Wi-Fi is almost considered a utility—as essential as water or electricity. Now, students carry more than just a cell phone; they have tablets and laptops in their bags, a smart watch or fitness tracker on their wrist, all seeking connection at the same time. With the fast growing capabilities we are all witnessing in smart devices, the lines between using technology for educational and recreation has blurred and students expect higher education institutions to support this growing trend.

 

As students spend more time on their devices, teachers have noticed. They have taken steps to modernize their teaching, integrating smart devices into everyday classroom activities and curriculum delivery. Now, the classroom includes online testing platforms, in-class research, distance learning, polling and more. To make this all possible, reliable Wi-Fi is key—a wireless network that can support waves of high density connections both inside and outside the classroom.

Until recently, Evangel University has been struggling to meet the needs for reliable Wi-Fi. With an outdated Wi-Fi network, students and teachers were complaining almost daily about the poor Wi-Fi experience throughout the campus. Within the past year, the university made a change. Working with Ruckus Wireless, Evangel upgraded its entire WLAN infrastructure, leveraging the ZoneFlex R710 indoor access point (AP), the world’s first enterprise-class Wave 2 11ac AP. And the benefits were instantaneous. To learn more, check out the case study.

 

Author: Diana Shtil, Product Marketing Manager

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February 02, 2016

What is the Wi-Fi password?

BlogImages-06

This is one of the most common questions heard in small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) today. With the shift in technology and consumer expectations of connectivity, SMBs do more than just provide products and services to their customers—they provide Wi-Fi.

But providing Wi-Fi can be a challenge to SMBs who have financial constraints and limited expertise in wireless networking. The options for SMBs are:

  • A low-cost, consumer-grade Wi-Fi router. This comes with a drawback. The SMB who goes this route will likely deal with connectivity issues, poor performance and the inability support high-density environments.
  • A feature-rich, expensive WLAN infrastructure. In this scenario, the business will need to have the IT knowledge or staff to deploy and maintain the complex infrastructure, something SMBs typically do not have.
  • A fully functioning, high performance controller-less Wi-Fi network. With this option, SMBs will benefit from a network that is easy to set up and manage while supporting the connectivity needs of the SMB customers while on-site.

In a traditional Wi-Fi network, the controller provides consolidated management for the entire Wi-Fi network in one place. These devices can be physical or virtual, and communicate with all APs in the network at the same time. But, the set up of a Wi-Fi network with a controller can take time, costs money and often needs IT expertise.

This is where Ruckus Unleashed comes into play. With Unleashed, the functionality of the Ruckus ZoneDirector platform is embedded directly into the Unleashed APs. Any Unleashed AP can act as the master, or controller. Unleashed is designed for a single site deployment of up to 25 APs or 512 concurrent consumer device connections. (For larger deployments or to support branch offices, ZoneDirector or SmartZone platforms are better options.) Unleashed features advanced RF performance, redundancy and resiliency all in a cost-effective package.

To learn more about Ruckus Unleashed, check out the solution brief, brochure or learn how to buy.

 

Author: Diana Shtil, Product Marketing Manager

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January 21, 2016

Sacramento Kings choose Ruckus to put extra bounce in their arena Wi-Fi

BallCourt-blog-IMG

By Kash Shaikh, vice president of marketing

Out with the old, in with the new. It’s a familiar phrase that still holds true. Civilization around the globe has drastically changed due to one thing: Wi-Fi. Something we lived without for so long, people can’t seem to be without for even a moment. Many companies, even those you wouldn’t expect (such as sports stadiums), now see Wi-Fi as table-stakes, and the services available through Wi-Fi as a competitive advantage.

As recent as a decade ago, nobody would have thought accessibility to the Internet would be a competitive imperative at a basketball game. And a few years ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he wanted fans off their phones to focus on the game. That mindset has since changed. Stadiums are on the race to digitize. Pro sports teams are taking notice of the changing demographics of fans. Millennials and younger have the need to stay connected. It’s come to an age where fans are leaving the college games during half time because they can’t connect to the Internet or upload pictures to social media. The younger generation has an expectation to be connected anywhere at any time. Therefore, stadiums are on a mission to bring in the new, a future proof infrastructure.

To keep fans connected, Ruckus Wireless and a number of other technology companies are teaming to provision Sacramento, California’s Golden 1 Center, the new home of the Sacramento Kings, with the most connected indoor sports and entertainment venue in the world. Slated to open in time for the 2016/17 basketball season, this venue will feature state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor Smart Wi-Fi system based on the newest 802.11ac Wave 2 standard. The network will enable the Kings to deliver a variety of new value-added and location-aware services, including multicast replays from exclusive arena camera angles, seat upgrades, real time statistics, enhanced fan engagement and wayfinding services – all at exceptional speeds.

Ruckus Wireless will be deploying next-generation Wi-Fi access points, placed to maximize efficiency and connectivity throughout the arena, public plaza and surrounding mixed-use development. Providing unprecedented Wi-Fi coverage with the highest density of access points per fan, this venue will have a strong and reliable connection no matter how many people are using the Internet. So let the games begin! With Wi-Fi, that is.

December 15, 2015

Big Dog Predictions: Let’s Fetch Our Crystal Ball

It’s that time of year again. Time for every media outlet, analyst firm, technology pundit and prognosticator to make predictions about the year ahead. Why? Just to commemorate a change in the calendar year? So be it. We don’t want to be left out of the prediction parade, so we asked several Ruckus technology experts to share their perspective for the wireless industry in 2016 and beyond:

What’s your number one prediction for the wireless industry in 2016?

Greg Beach (Vice President of Product Management): We’ll see an insurgence of MU-MIMO capable clients and resulting capacity benefits in high client density environments.

Sundar Sankaran (Chief Wireless Architect): New business models will evolve to monetize “free” Wi-Fi.

Dave Wright (Advanced Technologist): I’ll give you two for the price of one. First, I predict that web-scale content companies (social media, search, hosted services, etc.) will launch some very-large-scale Public Access Wi-Fi projects in developing markets. Second, I expect we’ll see an acquisition or merger between a Tier 1 MSO and a Tier 1 MNO.

How will the “wireless experience” change in the next 2-3 years?

Greg: The end-user experience related to accessing Wi-Fi hotspots and BYOD-enabled enterprise networks will be easier and more secure through the use of Hotspot 2.0 and certificate-based device onboarding solutions.

Sundar: Whole home coverage will become a reality, and people will “show off” their home network at dinner parties using a smartphone app.

Dave: Hotspot 2.0 will become the de facto standard for public access and hospitality Wi-Fi. Now that we have Hotspot 2.0 support in all major mobile and laptop operating systems, Hotspot 2.0 deployments will accelerate by service providers and hotel brands. Carrier Wi-Fi calling will be one driver for this.  

Where do you expect to see the most technology innovation in the next 2-3 years?

Greg: The biggest innovation will be Wi-Fi + cellular cross-pollination and convergence (802.11ax, LAA, LWA). Other possibilities include:

  • Mainstream use of analytics to drive user experience, business process optimization and monetization;
  • Cloud interconnections and service chaining of networking services to seamlessly tie together best-of-breed technologies;
  • Secure, manageable and scalable IoT platforms that leverage multiple sensor types and wireless protocols to provide business intelligence for enterprises and cities; and
  • Continued virtualization of networking services to enable service providers to more efficiently scale and more quickly roll out new services.

Sundar: We’ll see Wi-Fi spectral efficiency and network capacity improvements through multi-user techniques such as MU-MIMO and OFDMA, along with clever scheduling schemes that steer Wi-Fi away from CSMA/CA.

Dave: Many of the traditional distinctions in the wireless industry will be “blurred” due to technology, regulatory and business advances. Blurring will happen between: licensed and unlicensed; service provider and enterprise; and, public versus private. Specific advances that will affect these include: unlicensed LTE, 802.11ax, Wi-Fi calling, enterprise IMS and WebRTC, CBRS, private LTE and Hotspot 2.0.

That’s it for now. We’ll share more insights, ideas and perspective on these trends via the Ruckus Room over the next year. And we can predict with confidence that we’ll be back next December with a new slate of predictions.

December 08, 2015

Mythbuster: Christmas and Wi-Fi Are Indeed Compatible

AUTHOR: Sundar Sankaran, Chief Wireless Architect – Wi-Fi
 
Just in time for the holidays, we can confirm it’s safe to put up your Christmas lights – without degrading your Wi-Fi connection. Yes, we actually tested it. And unless you’re Clark Griswold, you’ll be safe.
 
The back story: British regulators at Ofcom reported last Tuesday with an in-depth look at the UK telecoms and wireless networks. Ofcom also unveiled a Wi-Fi Checker app that people could use in their homes to test wireless and broadband signals – and the news release said home Wi-Fi can be hampered by “interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave oven, baby monitor, a lamp - or even Christmas fairy lights.”
 
The Guardian quickly picked up on the “festive angle” with a breaking story under the headline: “Warning that Christmas fairy lights can slow your Wi-Fi.” And thus a global news meme was born, sparking a range of commentary, speculation, advice and hundreds of mostly cheeky comments about “first world problems.” While some of the discussion was thoughtful and even offered a reality check, we didn’t see any new data to counter Ofcom’s non-data.
 
So…three of us spent an afternoon last week in the Faraday cage, a “clean room” approach to testing equipment while blocking electrostatic and electromagnetic influences.
 
IMG_6291Here’s what we did to test the latest meme (see visual evidence below): We went to a local Target and bought four of the craziest LED “fairy lights” we could find. We took them into the Faraday cage and used a powerful spectrum analyzer ($50K+) to determine if the lights were emitting any energy that would interfere with Wi-Fi. We plugged in each strand one by one, and then all at once. We then did a second test setting up a Wi-Fi network with an access point and client devices to do a “lights on” and “lights off” test to see if there was any degradation of Wi-Fi performance.
 
IMG_6280
 
The result? Nada. Zip. Zilch. LED Christmas lights emitted no detectable interference in the first test, and had zero effect on Wi-Fi performance in the second. Suffice it to say that LED lights are not the scrooge of Wi-Fi-mas.
 
So go ahead and plug in your Christmas lights. While doing so, consider these pointers:
  • Speed-testing apps and sites are a very limited way to test wireless and broadband interference; they’re okay for spot-checks but many variables can change the results depending on when and where you run them.
  • “Interference” and “obstruction” differ. Interference is caused by other devices that use radio frequencies – it’s unpredictable yet can be turned on or off. Obstruction is caused by walls, floors and physical barriers – the degradation of Wi-Fi signals is constant and predictable based on location and material.
  • Wi-Fi interference can be caused by microwave ovens, baby monitors, wireless security cameras, older cordless phones and some other wireless electronic devices – typically higher-powered ones that emit more radio energy.
  • The broadband “pipe” coming into your home often provides less bandwidth than your Wi-Fi network, and thus can be culprit in performance overall.
P.S. Let us know if you find a set of Christmas lights that purportedly degrades your home or office Wi-Fi performance. We’re happy to go back in the Faraday cage…
   

November 05, 2015

Living in a virtualized world …

Gamers are used to living in a virtualized world. Battling imaginary villains and taking castle towers. However, this is not the only virtualized world that exists today. Our computer addicted world is going virtualized in virtual machines. Like with any new technology shift, a new vocabulary emerges to describe the entities that "live in this world". With the advent of companies like VMWare, applications are now created and run in this context on "virtual" computers that allow the business world to leverage their investment in VM Software and minimize expense of real computer hardware systems.

With the virtual solutions becoming entrenched in businesses, other concepts of how to use this technology have emerged. One important evolutionary step with virtual technologies is: Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). NFV takes the basic virtual computer concept one-step further, adding design flexibility by decoupling major network application functions and allowing them to operate in independent VM contexts.

VM_Context_Image

This "application body" disassociation results in a network deployment flexibility that has never before been possible. VM solutions freed businesses from physical hardware restrictions. NFV can compound that by freeing businesses from physical location restrictions. Depending upon the application and specific customer requirements, decoupled VM-NFV elements can be deployed either distributed or centralized and still be viewed as a cohesive service used to meet user needs. Additionally, the flexibility of NFV also enables better scaling of network components across a network and can have a direct impact on lowering CAPEX and TCO. There are a plethora of examples of how NFV can impact your virtual world. When taken into consideration at design time, applications can be developed to fit a segmented deployment model across multiple VM systems. If a VM system maxes out its current resources, expansion only requires deploying additional NFV-VM resources as a business or network grows. The whole solution may be co-resident in the same facility or be distributed but can be expanded seamlessly.

One obvious example where NFV can play a vital role in optimizing a network, is in managing user data flows. There are two major classes of data streams in all computer networks:  

  1. Control - that information which is used to configure, provision, monitor, and troubleshoot the operation of the network itself. It has nothing to do with the applications that are used on the network.
  2. Data - network traffic that is received or transmitted data by network nodes is support of applications.

Often user data becomes the predominant traffic on the network and whether distributed or centralized, such data may require special handling as to security and QoS. Traditionally, this was achieved through managing flows as VLANs and provisioning switches and routers to direct the flows to the correct target. This approach works but can be tedious for IT team members and limited in the desired class of services that can be implemented and sustained. Client nodes and switches/routers have to be configured which becomes increasingly cumbersome with network growth. One concept to simplify this problem is to create a NFV service that eliminates the complexity of configuring VLANs for clients and network infrastructures. Such a virtual service can aggregate user data based on SSIDs, apply encryption and policies to the data, and route that steam to the designated receivers. One natural example of this in a business context would be to collect and securely route all "guest" traffic to the Internet with a minimum of management overhead. The NFV approach requires only that special SSIDs be created at the APs and clients are no longer VLAN tagged. Aggregation happens at the access point which is then transmitted to the NFV service provider for ultimate forwarding.

An NFV approach can amplify deployment options, lower costs through proper resource scaling and amplify performance within a network. Ruckus sees real value is such an approach and has begun implementing unique NFV solutions in our virtualized SmartZone product portfolio.

 

October 29, 2015

Wi-Fi’s Whipping Boy Complex

Stop-fault-findingIf you’ve ever attended a large conference or exhibition, chances are everyone whined about the Wi-Fi. But the truth is, a lot of the time, it’s not Wi-Fi’s fault at all.

While there is a litany of Wi-Fi-specific deployment options that can cause problems in increasingly crowded Wi-Fi networks, such as: too many or too few APs, improper channel planning, haphazard AP placement, or too many SSIDs – even when all of these are handled perfectly, Wi-Fi still tends to get the blame when anything goes haywire.

Not an exhaustive list of every possible networking problem, here are some of the more common culprits that cause Wi-Fi to be everyone’s whipping boy, especially in highly dense wireless conditions.

 
More Broadband Please!

 The most frequent and obvious problem for which Wi-Fi is castigated is lousy or slow broadband connectivity. The purpose of almost all Wi-Fi networks is to provide local connectivity for clients to get to the Internet. The fastest Wi-Fi networks on the planet that can now deliver local connection speeds at hundreds of megabits per second to clients, come to a crawl if there isn’t enough backhaul to the Internet. Even a 100Mbps Internet connection is too slow when you have thousands of clients served by dozens of APs capable of near gigabit speeds. This makes Wi-Fi appear slow or unreliable.

Another major problem, not directly related to Wi-Fi, is simply poor wired network design. Switching, routing and higher layer functions such as DHCP and DNS systems not configured correctly to support the explosion of Wi-Fi network connections can wreak havoc on the network but still appears to be a Wi-Fi problem. 


Addressing Users

There are a number of ways that setting up DHCP improperly will cause problems that will look to most people like Wi-Fi is broken.  The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a method for automatically configuring TCP/IP network settings on computers, printers, and other network devices.

With DHCP, a common problem can be too long of a DHCP lease. This is the amount of time that a device is allowed to retain an IP address. In a standard network configuration, this period of time can be hours, or even days. Active devices will ask to renew their lease from the DHCP server when the lease is half up.  An inactive device will simply lose its lease and the address will be released and available to be assigned to another device.  

Over a long period of time in a high-density network it is possible to run out of IP addresses. It’s sort of like a train station where people come and go all day long. When the lease is too long, the DHCP server can run out of assignable addresses again giving the impression that Wi-Fi is broken. Shorter leases will generate a slight bit of additional traffic with the renewals but is worth the tradeoff versus depleting the available IP addresses.


Lost in Translation

 A domain network service (DNS) is a vital part of any network.  Whenever a device needs to know what address to use when passing traffic, the DNS server provides a translation from a name, or URL, to an actual IP address.

If a DNS server is underpowered, in a busy or dense Wi-Fi environment, it can fall way behind in its role by trying to provide address translation for more devices than it has processing power to complete. And If a DNS server crashes or clients can’t reach it, the users are effectively dead in the water. This causes devices to only sporadically be able to pass traffic and gives the impression of a Wi-Fi network that is overloaded even though every client is properly connected.

 DNS redundancy in this case is a helpful fix, especially in highly dense Wi-Fi conditions. A properly devised network has redundancy built in, providing multiple DNS servers to support large numbers of users.  


The Big MAC Attack

Every device has a unique media access control (MAC) address used by network switches to move traffic around. Different types of switches have different limitations on the number of MAC addresses of which they can keep track. 

A core switch typically has a large MAC table that lets it track a lot of devices while an edge switch has more MAC table limitations. When that limit is reached, the switches lose the ability to properly pass traffic where it needs to go and end up flooding all ports in an attempt to find the correct path.  When this happens there is already quite a large amount of traffic being passed, resulting in dropped packets, a lot of them.

If a large number of devices are attempting to access the network at the same time, DHCP requests and ARPs become affected and we once again see a problem that looks like the Wi-Fi is broken even though the problem has nothing to do with Wi-Fi.                       

A more devious limitation than the number of MAC addresses a switch can handle is the number that it can handle on any one virtual LAN or subnet.  A guest WLAN is generally configured for a single VLAN.  But edge switches are often limited to a smaller number of MAC addresses per VLAN than they are for the switch as a whole.  At an event with a very large number of people attending, the guest network is generally configured for a single VLAN. In this case every edge switch ends up seeing every MAC address of every guest connected to the network, possibly exceeding the limit of those switches for a single VLAN.  Correctly sizing the edge switches, controlling broadcast domains, using multiple VLANs where possible, or tunneling traffic to beefier core switches will help avoid this problem.


Now Broadcasting

When broadcast (UDP) packets are sent by a device over Wi-Fi, they are sent at much lower speeds than if they were sent directly the end receiving device (web server, VPN, etc.).  Broadcast traffic has no expectation of an acknowledgement. This means the device doesn’t always know if the packet was received.  Broadcast packets are typically sent multiple times because of this.

The effect is that broadcasts take up a lot more airtime than unicast (TCP) traffic. Because Wi-Fi is a shared medium where users contend for access and wait for the network to be available before they can transmit or receive traffic, too many broadcasts will bring a network to its knees. But certain types of broadcast, such as DHCP requests and ARPs (the address resolution protocol used to get the MAC addresses of devices on the network based on IP addresses) are necessary. Simply turning off broadcast traffic is not an option.

Good network design always accommodates broadcasts but limits them as much as possible. A large, flat, Layer 2 network, such as is typical for an event like a trade show or football game, is a perfect opportunity for broadcasts to kill the network. Every device sees every other devices broadcasts – whether they need to or not. Worse yet, while traffic is broadcast, no other devices can't send real data.

Too many broadcasts within a wired network will be just as deadly as too many broadcasts over the air.  The result looks like the Wi-Fi network is overloaded when that is not the case at all.  Packets will be dropped at the switches when a packets per second limitation is reached.

On the Wi-Fi side, client isolation can help to reduce the effect and also provide security to the wireless devices.  It’s also necessary to control broadcasts within the switched side of the network too; using VLANs to reduce broadcast domains. Switches that allow VLANs to be dynamically assigned to a single or group of devices help solve this problem.

Got Perspective?

Ultimately, Wi-Fi often gets a bad rap when it is completely undeserved.  Yes, Wi-Fi is not perfect, but at the end of the day, Wi-Fi is also dependent on the wired network that connects everything together and can never exceed its capabilities. Although only touching the surface of the many challenges that impact Wi-Fi that are not Wi-Fi-related, hopefully these common wired pitfalls will give Wi-Fi whiners some much needed perspective.