So you’ve scored tickets to an NFL game. What will you do once you arrive at the stadium and take your seats? If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll take out a phone or tablet, and hook up to the stadium’s WiFi network. People want access, and they want it all the time, wherever they go.
A number of major sporting or other venues are accommodating this demand by installing high density wireless networks.
Fred Kirsch, VP of content for the New England Patriots, thought that people would mostly use the network in Gillette Stadium to access the team’s exclusive app. They used it, but they also used the network for plenty of other things too. Kirsch told TechTarget, “Even if we didn’t offer [our app], we’d need a Wi-Fi network just to meet the expectations of consumers today.”
High density wireless is making access better where mobile device use is increasing, like in warehouses.
At large venues today, from convention centers to sports arenas to college lecture halls, large numbers of people and their thousands of devices all want immediate access to apps and data, and high density wireless is giving it to them.
High Density Wireless
Wi-Fi and wireless LAN (WLAN) providers are working with a large cross section of customers, designing systems to accommodate the increase in user access demands, and the rapid growth in the number of devices carried per person. Many of them are using Gigabit Wi-Fi and new-generation equipment designed for high density wireless rollouts to get the job done. Organizations have increased WLAN capacity significantly over the past couple of years, and strong growth continues.
BYOD as a Driver of High Density Wireless
High density wireless is becoming more prevalent in the enterprise as well, as more companies adopt BYOD strategies or assign more workers more mobile devices. It’s not just big corporations installing high density wireless, but an increasing number of small and medium-sized businesses as well. There are two basic approaches to rolling out high density wireless: coverage-based, and capacity based.
Coverage Based High Density Wireless
With coverage based high density wireless, the goal is to provide good RF signal strength in as much of a given area as possible through single or multiple access points. This type of high density wireless network is best for sites with large areas, and relatively few devices per user, such as elementary school classrooms, warehouses, medical facilities, and hotels.
Many classrooms use coverage based high density wireless networks.
The number of access points (APs) needed is determined by AP signal strength, which is calculated based on AP output power and antenna gain. Other factors affecting the number of required access points include floor plan, construction materials, the number of floors, and the presence of locations where coverage is not needed (or wanted).
Capacity Based High Density Wireless
With capacity based high density wireless, the goal is providing high quality wireless to a confined area with a concentrated set of users, all using the network at the same time. This type of deployment is often found in high school and college classrooms and lecture halls, stadiums, libraries, and conference facilities. Design of capacity based high density wireless is based on the number of users to be served by a single AP, number of devices per person, percentage of users expected to be active at a given time, and types of applications used.
Designing a high capacity wireless network starts with identification of high density areas. Dual band APs (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) are recommended for maximum available throughput. The access points should overlap to some extent, so if one AP is overloaded, the network can be load balanced to other access points without end-users noticing. Any given AP should serve up to 25 or 30 users with high quality reception. Some organizations have to upgrade wired networks to support higher throughput before installing their high density wireless network. Before the network goes live, a stress test that fully loads the network should be done to ensure the network can handle the amount of traffic required.
BYOD is starting to be a way of life both inside and outside the office, and high density wireless networks are being developed and deployed to accommodate the major increases in web traffic going on in places like schools, hospitals, and entertainment venues. If this is on the cards for your organization, more demands will be placed on your IT service desk and IT access management program. Be ready with Samanage, a true cloud-based solution that offers integrated IT service desk and asset management features that scales up quickly and easily.
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