Join Sean Colins for an in-depth discussion in this video Wi-Fi capacity vs. coverage, part of Meraki: iPad Mobile Device Management.
- [Voiceover] When you turn on your laptop and see the little Wi-Fi symbol, go to four full bars of coverage and yet you can't get to a web page, what do you think is happening? It could be that your computer is not representing the way the network is working accurately. It is impossible for that one little icon to appropriately communicate all of the different things that could be going wrong with the Wi-Fi signal. On a Mac, if you hold down the Option key on your keyboard while you click on that Wi-Fi menu, you'll get a much more detailed expression of how your network is operating.
Now those details may not mean very much to you if you don't have a full grounding in wireless network design but to a network administrator, this menu option describes many of the things needed to troubleshoot a wireless connection problem. You may be experiencing any one of a number of network failures. This may be a problem with the router being offline or the internet connection to the facility being down, but those are once-in-a-blue-moon occurrences that happen and get fixed and they probably have nothing to do with bad planning. If the Wi-Fi network was planned badly though without enough capacity for the number of connected devices anticipated, it is more likely that you are on an access point that has too many other devices on it at the same time.
In an area where there is plenty of coverage but there is no additional capacity on the Wi-Fi access point, a Wi-Fi access point could be located close enough to you and have enough power to get your device to report four full bars of power in the Wi-Fi menu, but that doesn't mean you can get anywhere. The access point can only talk to one device at a time and it is connected to the rest of the network through one ethernet cable, and that one ethernet connection has a top-end limit to how fast it can carry requests and replies.
All of these physical realities point to limitations that you need to plan around if you want a successful network deployment to support your one-to-one iPads. If the access point is overloaded with devices all trying to communicate at the same time, then that access point will no longer be able to effectively serve any of the devices that are connected to it very well. This is the functional difference between coverage, which is what most people think of when designing a network, and capacity which is a crucial other component to successful wireless network design.
If you plan to put very few high-powered wireless access points on your network to cover a large number of devices, you will likely have too many devices connected to each access point for that access point to route traffic effectively. If you put too many wireless access points too close together, you'll end up overlapping the network with frequencies that cannot exist adjacent to one another without creating interference.
In the next few movies, we're going to talk about how the 2.4 and 5GHz network frequencies differently impact the way that you will design your network for both capacity and coverage, but specifically, for how coverage can be made to overlap causing unwanted noise problems.
The first steps involve preparation: purchase planning, Apple enrollment, and expanding your Wi-Fi network to serve a large number of new mobile devices. Sean then reviews the merits of different MDM software. He shows how to configure push notifications, set up profiles that control iOS functionality, and shows you how to find and install apps. He then examines the setup process from the user's perspective and explores alternatives to mobile device management, such as app-less deployment and a simple hands-off approach to device management.
- Planning purchases
- Purchasing Apple equipment for the Device Enrollment Program (DEP)
- Enrolling in DEP
- Planning to increase Wi-Fi capacity and coverage
- Setting up Meraki
- Linking devices to MDM
- Creating and configuring MDM profiles
- Setting up an iPad that's been zero-touch deployed
- Examining alternatives to MDM