Wireless – Is it ready for the return to work?

 Wireless network connectivity has been a necessity in most office environments for years, but for many organizations it has been an add on to the wired network to provide some flexibility if users are working in meeting rooms or breakout areas.

The office environment has now changed, due to Covid -19 the flexibility of the office is now paramount. Many users that were on desktop fixed machines will now be using laptops and could be connecting to the wireless. To maintain social distancing the office layout may also have been redesigned.  Do you know that your existing wireless solution can support the new way of working and is it optimized for an office redesign?

Another element to consider is the capability of the new devices if your wireless solution has been installed for many years it is likely to be working to standards that are older than the end user devices support.

Before users return to work, ISDM solutions would recommend a wireless site survey of the existing installation be completed. This will identify the current coverage, interference, bands and channels in use. Completing this survey creates a line in the sand for the wireless performance that can be referenced back to in the event of issues in the future.

However, this is still only a report detailing the performance at that snapshot in time. To ensure a reliable, self-optimizing wireless network a wireless LAN controller solution should be deployed if not done so already. A wireless LAN controller manages the wireless network as a single pane of glass.  This is best practice for any new wireless deployment, but it is also possible that current standalone access points could be upgraded to be controller managed, either cloud, virtual or on-premise controllers are available. Not all wireless controllers are the same however, some controllers are just management for the access points, but the access points still work independently.

The best practice solutions proactively manage the wireless solution in real time. Signal propagation & channel allocation from each access point is automatically adjusted by the controller, and features such as enhanced client roaming improve the end user experience.  In our example previously where the office layout is changed, the wireless controller would either boost or reduce the power of the wireless signal ensuring that the network is always working as efficiently as possible for all users.

Other key benefits of a modern wireless solution could be guest portals and teleworker access points.

The traditional way guest access is performed is to have a separate guest SSID with a pre-shared key that is provided to all guest users. This does not provide any traceability of what guests have logged onto the wireless network. Using a lobby administrator function can provide a unique log on for each guest, this can then be used as reference with other track and trace procedures the business are using for guests as it can be determined when the users logged onto and off the wireless network.

Teleworker wireless solutions provide a wireless access point in your staff members home office configured with the corporate wireless SSID. This provides secure managed access to the corporate resources in exactly the same way as the user would access them in the office, segregating this corporate traffic from the rest of the internet traffic in the household.

ISDM can provide advice and support on your wireless set up and assess this solution by providing wireless site survey utilising Ekahau wireless site survey tools.

Richard Shelley

Head of Enterprise Networks