Making Wi-Fi Great Again!

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Last week I attended my first CWNP conference called “Wi-Fi Trek” in Orlando. As a CWTS and WCNA myself, I felt a great sense of community with the other delegates who also have at least one vendor-neutral certification. The CWNP under new leadership is making some great initiatives to reach out to a broader audience and Wi-Fi 360 is proud to be participating to that outreach. For those not familiar, the Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP) is the IT industry standard for vendor neutral enterprise Wi-Fi certification and training.

This is a conference for and by networking and security folk’s who live and breathe Wi-Fi very with solid representation from various enterprises ranging universities to Wall-Mart to airlines.

Is 802.11 ax dead before it is born?

Emperor Wi-Fi as he likes to call himself Jason D. Hintersteiner argues that 802.11 ax is already dead because it does not bring enough marginal benefits to the table except in high dense environments. One may argue that everywhere including the home is becoming a high dense environment…. We are creating over complex Wi-Fi systems trying to cheat the laws of physics and squeezing always more bits in the air but that innovation is lagging on the client devices side hampering most of the progress made on the access point side.

As far as MU-MIMO, he argues that it is only useful under specific circumstances.

  • Clients must provide position feedback (≥ 802.11ac wave 2)
  • Clients must be spatially separated from each other
  • Clients must have similar data transmission times (MCS data rates + data quantity)

There is a lack of support from devices especially smartphones except for Google and Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the rest are mainly USB dongles and laptops…

The key enhancement is OFDMA: Orthogonal frequency division multiple access which brings multiple subcarriers (down to 2 MHz) and Time-domain multiplexing (i.e. variant of TDMA) and requires the AP to maintain complete control of the channel, as in cellular LTE networks (and PCF). Wi-Fi is increasingly approaching the complexity of mobile networks…

802.11ax is an order of magnitude more complex than what has come before in Wi-Fi but only brings 10-15% higher speeds so is it worth all the trouble? For sure there is a need to educate the market and setting the right expectations.

Source: Jason D. Hintersteiner, CWNE #171

Security

There was a lot of discussion about security at the conference and how few people are said to really understand 802.1X in the real world. We heard several presenters share their experience at the Black Hat IT security and DEF CON conference, a challenging environment for securing a Wi-Fi network indeed with pineapple APs walking around and 10,000 SSID to manage. The recent Severe WiFi security flaw puts millions of devices at risk is discussed in this recent blog by Mojo Networks.

Making Wi-Fi Great Again!

Deployment site surveys were a recurring theme as well with Ekahau being one of the main sponsors sharing best practices in high density and large venues. The conference concluded with the session entitled Making Wi-Fi Great Again with a review of the rising challenges facing Wi-Fi following the rise in usage and expectations. Unplanned WIFI, BYOD, and lack or site surveys.

Source: https://badfi.com/bad-fi/

Site Surveys: Do them!

  • Predictive Design:Capacity Planning; Application Planning;Predicted Growth;SSID Usage;
  • Use the strongest security possible
  • Avoid the over populated 2.4 GHz space when possible
  • Use channel bonding wisely in low density areas or not at all!
  • Train the users and set proper user expectations
  • Build around the capabilities of the clients and the environment

Overall a very productive conference with down-to-earth presentations and discussions from people who deploy and manage enterprise Wi-Fi networks of all kinds and a great CWNP family reunion!

The presentations are available for download

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