In a world dominated by mobile devices many of which are brought into the workplace, a fast and reliable wireless network has taken over from wired connections as the preferred end-device connection method. When you add the Internet of Things (IoT) Movement into the mix, the sheer number of WiFi-enabled devices connecting to a business’s WLAN will grow exponentially. How far will your current wireless network take you before you need an upgrade and what is likely to cause the most amount of stress to your wireless network?

Information technology research and advisory company, Gartner, forecasts that 20.8 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020.  So with that staggering figure in mind, Inspired Technology takes a look at the potential sources of pressure on your network both now and in the future.

One issue is wireless spectrum interference.  Using unlicensed, easy-to-deploy 2.4 and 5 GHz wireless spectrum for WiFi saves money but administrators have to remain vigilant to interference from everything from Bluetooth keyboards to microwaves, to a neighbour’s WLAN.  Interference increases as more products become wireless capable.

The rise of the cloud has meant that businesses backing up data from laptops and other wirelessly connected devices will consume a massive amount of bandwidth on the WLAN. One solution is to restrict backups to non-peak hours or have employees use a wired Ethernet connection.

You would also be surprised how physical obstructions such as steel and brick within buildings can play a part in creating a deadspot on your WLAN coverage.  It’s vital that your administrators regularly carry out site surveys to insure proper WLAN coverage.

Device capacity should also be considered with older APs (access points) struggling to cope with even a few dozen connected devices.  The recommendation is for high density WLAN architectures which have the capacity to cope with several hundred wireless devices on a single AP, properly managing bandwidth so each user has the same access.

The increase of wireless devices and the heavy use of streaming and video, will also chew up a massive amount of bandwidth. If your employees start watching Netflix, YouTube or streaming videos via social networking websites during their lunchbreaks, then this will hurt WiFi performance.  Businesses should consider restricting or blocking bandwidth for popular non-business websites and apps.

One last strain on your WLAN is not even wireless. Backhaul traffic is caused by WLAN traffic going to a centralised controller, which then distributes it onto the LAN.  If you fail to monitor this effectively then the backhaul Ethernet links end up creating a bottleneck for all wireless traffic.

Whichever way you look at it, wireless connectivity is the future.  Your older WLAN may well have been designed for coverage not capacity.  Newer WLAN architectures have resolved this as they are able to handle both coverage and capacity, allowing users to connect in more densely populated WiFi areas.