Tactical Advice

Maximizing 802.11n

Follow these six tips to get the most out of your upgraded wireless network.

Organizations can expect faster, more secure wireless connectivity than ever before with 802.11n gear. Deploying 802.11n wireless is worth the effort, but you have to plan. Consider these helpful six steps for a successful project.

Tip 1: Choose the right security for your 802.11n equipment. When configuring access points and routers, you should resist the urge to use older encryption algorithms such as Wired Equivalent Privacy or the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol for the sake of backward compatibility. These settings can dramatically reduce network performance on 802.11n machines. Instead, use a newer algorithm such as Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, which maximizes security without sacrificing reliability or speed. For backward compatibility, leave your old wireless b/g equipment set up to maintain connectivity for clients with older chipsets.

Tip 2: For enterprise solutions, use wireless equipment that offers both public and private access. Most organizations have visitors in their conference rooms from time to time who need Internet access. Most IT departments, however, don't want outside machines connecting to the network, nor do visitors necessarily want to be managed by an organization's Internet filter. You can overcome both of these challenges by purchasing an 802.11n router that supports both a private network for connecting the organization's notebooks and a public network for connecting visitors' computers.

Tip 3: Use 5 gigahertz equipment for more demanding applications. When upgrading to 802.11n, you can use either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz spectrum. While 2.4GHz is less expensive and compatible with more clients, 5GHz offers better 802.11n performance. Unfortunately, clients operating at 2.4GHz cannot connect to a 5GHz access point. Because of this, you should consider using both 5GHz and 2.4GHz equipment concurrently. That way, users of bandwidth-intensive applications, such as security cameras and video conferencing programs, can connect to the 5GHz network, while everyone else can connect to the 2.4GHz equipment. The cost of an additional access point is nominal, and the payoff is less network congestion and a better experience for your users.

Tip 4: Upgrade legacy adapters. Remember that 802.11n wireless is a major upgrade from 802.11g, providing up to six times the bandwidth. If you have workstations that could benefit from this increased speed, consider upgrading these computers immediately instead of holding out for them to be refreshed. While many notebooks still ship with 802.11g chipsets, prices continue to drop on 802.11n adapters, allowing for easy and relatively inexpensive upgrades.

Tip 5: Repurpose older equipment where it can do the most good. When upgrading your network-connected devices, remember that not all users will benefit from 802.11n speeds. While servers and workstations often generate a great deal of traffic and can make good use of the faster transfer rates, other equipment, such as printers and time clocks, will be largely unaffected. Audit your network's needs and avoid upgrading where it doesn't make sense. When you do upgrade, you can use your older 802.11b/g equipment to expand your network in lower-traffic situations, provide redundancy or deploy your unused equipment to teleworkers for use at home.

Tip 6: Use a gigabit backbone for your 802.11n network. While 100 megabit-per-second backbone networks have typically provided more than enough bandwidth for older wireless protocols, 802.11n wireless supports speeds of up to 300Mbps. Administrators will need to keep this in mind when planning deployment of 802.11n equipment and ensure that only gigabit hardware is deployed. While Internet traffic won't suffer at 100Mbps speeds, local traffic, such as FTP transfers and e-mail, will bottleneck. Don't undermine your investment by overlooking this important detail.

 

Jason Holbert is a Tier II desktop support technician at Harcros Chemicals, a chemical manufacturer and distributor in Kansas City, Kan.
Sign up for our e-newsletter

About the Author

Jason Holbert

Jason Holbert

Jason covers desktop applications and help desk utilities, including reviews geared toward the IT end-user support function. Jason is the PC infrastructure manager for Harcros Chemicals, a worldwide leader in chemical manufacturing and distribution. At Harcros, Jason supports over 350 end users at 30 branch locations. In his free time, Jason enjoys reading, motorcycling, competitive shooting and remodeling his starter home with his wife.

Security

Three Ways to Integrate Fire... |
Follow these tips to align the devices with log management and incident tracking systems.
Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...
The Value of Converged Infra... |
Improvements in security, management and efficiency are just a few of the benefits CI can...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Hardware & Software

New Challenges in Software M... |
IT trends such as cloud, virtualization and BYOD pose serious hurdles for software...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
The Tools That Power Busines... |
Ever-evolving analytic software can greatly improve financial institutions’ decision-...