Wireless Network Problems

In general, troubleshooting network connectivity issues require the same techniques but with Wireless Networks there is an additional layer that you need to consider. You need to be aware of the wireless layer and the implications it has over your connection. In this article I will point out the most common wireless problems and how to resolve them.

Multiple WAPs

In businesses and large entities automatic switching between different WAP devices may be desired as to allow employees roam about with their mobile devices without losing their data or VoIP connection. The use of more than one WAP devices is required to cover a large office area but each device must be positioned in its own boundary with minimal overlap over other device’s range. In such situations, WAPs are configured appropriately to handle such conditions. When a Wireless client device is located within a signal range covered by two or more WAPs which are configured separately then problems may occur. This can cause temporary interruptions or the connection is lost completely. This is more common with home or small office setups. Remember that  802.11b and 802.11g access points have a range up to 45 meters while 802.11a up to 15 meters in optimal indoor conditions. That is, with minimal interference and obstacles in the way! Therefore, you need to consider signal range and strength when positioning your WAP devices.

The practical solution to this problem is to turn off automatic switching in one or all network profiles and set the preferred one manually.  Typically this is done by clearing the Connect to a more preferred network if available check box from the wireless network properties of the client device. Remember, that this action results in a user needing to detect and manually connect to the preferred network.

Interference

Signal interference produced by mobile phones, microwave ovens and other devices can cause temporary interruptions and other connectivity problems. Microwave ovens and cordless phones may be using the same frequencies as 802.11b and 802.11g devices.

The solution is to change the WAP settings to use a different wireless channel or to configure the channel to be selected automatically. Some channels are less prone to interference than others. To configure your WAP you need to connect to it through a Web interface from a computer that already has network access.

SSID Name

The SSID is the identity of your wireless network. There may be more than one network with the same ID in your range. Wireless client devices might try to switch between two WAP devices if they are configured with the same SSID. Conflicting Wireless networks that end up with the default name may occur in a block of apartments where neighboring wireless networks overlap each other.

The solution is to give your WAP device a unique SSID name. By changing the SSID and configuring other security settings you will be hardening your wireless security and minimizing problems.

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