Since posting our piece “Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance” the other day, we received a few emails and a comment asking us “What about band steering?” and “Why all the hassle? Isn’t that what band steering is for?”
Well, we are happy they asked.
It’s a common misconception that band steering is a miracle solution for wireless optimization. Band steering – a common function found on wireless controllers – discovers which devices are 5.0 Ghz compatible and signals the access points to move the device to the 5.0 band. It is helpful, but its effectiveness of this is limited by the sophistication and quality of the wireless coverage.
This is why points #1 and #2 from our Best Practices for Maximizing Wifi Performance post are so important:
Assign different names for your 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz SSIDs
Using SSIDs to differentiate between the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands allows for more transparency and control of the wireless experience. For example, if the SSIDs were named Skynet2.4 or Skynet5.0, users and integrators would always know which band they were connected to.. Such differentiation in name would also empower users giving them then ability to choose between the bands if they wished to manually do so – this is not the case if the bands are masked by having the same SSID. Design your wireless network around the smaller range of 5.0 GHz band
Designing your wireless network around the smaller range of 5.0 GHz band is crucial if band steering is expected to work properly. If the wireless topology was designed around the 2.4 GHz range, then you can expect there to be drops in coverage on the 5.0 band. Designing around the 5.0 GHz band will ensure that the fast 5.0 signal strength is seamless and won’t be overpowered by the strong, but slow 2.4 band. The 2.4GHz range can always be tuned down to minimize overlap, but you can’t really boost the 5.0 range with out compromising signal strength and speed. While the 5.0 GHz band is faster and less congested it’s range is not as long, nor is it as able to penetrate walls and dense objects as well as the 2.4 signal.
If you missed our Three Best Practices for Maximizing Wireless Network Performance we suggest you check it out. We also suggest you make sure your firmware is up to date on your wireless devices – on Friday (7/10/2015)we released updates for our WK-1 access point (v1.1.05) and our C36 controller (v3.17 ), please make sure you check for the updates on our dealer portal.