Planning WLAN Step 4 - Setting Up Requirements and Expectations

When building a wireless LAN, it is important to establish practical expectations while setting requirements for the LAN. When setting requirements, you should make sure that they are practical and possible given the technologies you are planning to use.

For example, you cannot expect 1,000 users to simultaneously use an AP and maintain the 11−Mbps speed when using an 802.11b wireless LAN, as most 802.11b APs support a maximum of 64 users.

However, you should establish the minimum requirements for the LAN. This will help you carefully choose equipment and set up your expectations.

  • Network Bandwidth and Speed

Because wireless is a shared medium among all wireless LAN devices on a LAN, the network bandwidth and speed degrade with any increase in the number of users that share an AP.

When planning a wireless LAN, you must consider whether the throughput of the proposed wireless LAN technology is sufficient for the number of users.

For example, the 802.11b−based wireless LANs operate at 11 Mbps, and if the users need a bandwidth of 100 Mbps, 802.11b might not be the right choice.

When planning, therefore, you must compare the actual needs of users with the technologies available and carefully communicate the characteristics of the planned network with those who will be using the wireless LAN.

  • Coverage Area and Range of Wireless LANs

Though many wireless LAN equipment manufacturers claim that their devices can operate at ranges up to 300 meters, more often a range like this is only possible in open ground under conditions of direct visibility.

Steel structures and thick walls easily obstruct wireless LAN signals, traveling over the airwaves. Wireless LANs operate better in environments that lack obstructions.

For example, wireless LANs in a building with cubicles will perform better than in a building with individual offices. In addition, if a location where wireless LANs are to be deployed consists of many floors, the signals may be obstructed by the ceilings and the floors of the building.

  • Security

The current security standards of wireless LANs are highly criticized. While deploying wireless LANs, you should thoroughly understand the weaknesses and strengths of wireless LAN security to avoid making claims that might not turn out to be true in the long term.

Be advised that current wireless LAN security standards are vulnerable to attacks.