Why Your Wi-Fi Sucks And How It Can Be Helped, Part 2

Long-Range, 1 Versus 60 Clients Plus Noise

With interference from our 60 Wi-Fi clients (and connected access point), we again see a predictable and severe hit to performance across the board. Again, Apple impresses by plugging along, while poor Meraki stumbles again into the ditch, unable to complete the test. And again, Cisco shows its design prowess by seizing an almost 19% advantage over HP. To us, this exemplifies that deep design quality far outstrips marketing bullet points, such as three-stream support. If HP and Meraki are the best performance to be had from “450 Mb/s” access points, we’ll stick with hardier two-stream options any day.

Once more, we see the same story drawn even more dramatically in the uplink testing. Ruckus barely manages to hold Cisco at bay. Both leaders pull far ahead from the others, with Aruba and HP in a near dead heat for a distant third place.

Note that at these levels, none of our five competing APs would likely sustain a decent HD video signal. Unfortunately, what we measured was average sustained throughput over the course of a two-minute test run. There simply wasn’t enough time within our test window to also run minimum sustained throughput levels. After having seen Ruckus excel in this before, we really wanted to see if competing enterprise-class products could meet or beat Ruckus on this basis in our environment, particularly since streaming video looks to be playing an increasingly important role in K-12 education. Schools need to understand the technical limits of how and where their wireless networks can be deployed, especially when potentially many dozens of clients are involved. Even in a home environment, 100 feet for a video stream isn’t uncommon, although the amount of interference likely to be encountered by consumers should be less than we inflicted here.

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  • winner4455
    Hey, I still haven't read this article but right away I notice the new format. Just thanking you for listening to your readers! :)
    15
  • Other Comments
  • winner4455
    Hey, I still haven't read this article but right away I notice the new format. Just thanking you for listening to your readers! :)
    15
  • cangelini
    Very welcome Winner. We thought the picture story format would work for that last part and didn't realize the text would come out to be so terrible. From now on, we'll only use picture stories when the captions fit without requiring another click!
    9
  • tacoslave
    cangeliniVery welcome Winner. We thought the picture story format would work for that last part and didn't realize the text would come out to be so terrible. From now on, we'll only use picture stories when the captions fit without requiring another click!

    "Now thats what i like to hear!"
    4
  • nekromobo
    What if you add few thin-foil balls to room (the size of fist or 2)

    That should add few rf-reflections or paths, right?
    Just your 2cent amplifier.. :)
    2
  • dead_rabbit
    Quote:
    However, when push came to shove,

    what does this clause mean???
    -8
  • wifiguy99
    When will Part 1 get a makeover like this?
    2
  • Anonymous
    I wonder why you didn't include Juniper products (formerly trapeze)to this test. It's quit a big player here in europe. Trapeze also produced the 3com wireless manager and accesspoints which was sold widely here.
    2
  • Hupiscratch
    In the page "Benchmark Results: Close Range, No Interference", the HP AP is missing on the downlink graph.
    3
  • Onus
    This was an outstanding article. Going just by this, Ruckus and Cisco are the only two I'd consider out of the box, but it would be very interesting to do a follow on that features even a minimal amount of tweaking to see what changes. A consumer expects a product to work well out of the box, but an enterprise network engineer almost certainly does not.
    2
  • Anonymous
    Very thorough. Lots of hard work went into this and it shows. But how did you select client devices? Did you try any other chipsets? We tried something like this with more diverse clients and got results that were too variable to reach conclusions. (Some clients just did better with some APs than others.)
    2
  • ashserratt
    Why not include Aerohive?
    1
  • Brazilian Joe
    I would like to know about the exact model of the Airport Extreme tested: is it the previous generation model, or the recently refreshed model capable of 450Mbps?
    -1
  • rebel1280
    jtt283This was an outstanding article. Going just by this, Ruckus and Cisco are the only two I'd consider out of the box, but it would be very interesting to do a follow on that features even a minimal amount of tweaking to see what changes. A consumer expects a product to work well out of the box, but an enterprise network engineer almost certainly does not.

    As much as i want to see a follow up on tweaked APs did you read the cost of the setup, $15,000! I don't expect a follow up any time soon haha. By the way Toms, great articles. I didn't mind the initial layout but I like this one better truth be told. Good info, good read. Looks like I'm getting me a Cisco for the office :)
    1
  • awtull
    You have confirmed what 6 years of operating and managing a TROPOS wireless mesh network has shown. As a municipality that deployed the network initially for mobile workers and public safety we did sell access to the network for affordable internet to our citizens. When we looked for a wireless bridge device for the customer that would give good performance along with reliable connectivity the hands down winner was Ruckus. We have probably installed close a 1000 of their dual zone bridges and I can say that everything that your tests have shown is what we have seen in true world application. Your article did a great job of addressing all of the various RF issues of wireless network and I commend you on a job well done.

    Anthony Tull CGCIO
    IT Director
    City of Granbury, TX
    8
  • wiinter
    Will - this has got to be one of the best online articles I've read in the last 15 years. Kudos to you and your team!
    2
  • Onus
    Anonymous said:
    As much as i want to see a follow up on tweaked APs did you read the cost of the setup, $15,000!...

    Oh yes, of course. If they could take just a worst case result, e.g. for that sorry Meraki unit, and see if a few simple tweaks made it viable, hopefully that wouldn't take the time or expense, but would clearly show the benefit from tweaking (i.e. from being a competent network engineer).

    Edit: And, perhaps the cost could be picked up by Meraki, or Aruba, since it seems to clearly be in their best interests, IF it showed their units could hang with the big boys. Based on this article alone, I probably wouldn't touch their products with a ten foot dipole.
    1
  • Anonymous
    Great read, interesting article. Have about 7 wifi devices in my house and currently getting pretty random performance. Think i now know why. If Ruckus ever releases a 3X3:3 for close range performance that would be very interesting!
    0
  • spammit
    Isn't it Cisco Aironet, not Aeronet?
    2
  • thearm
    spammitIsn't it Cisco Aironet, not Aeronet?


    Lord... Does it really matter?

    Anyway, it's so weird here at Toms now an add will pop up because you move you mouse over it and you have to click X to close it. But yet, the pull down at the end of each story (with the chapters in it) will go away of you move your mouse off of it. You have to be very careful with your mouse, when trying to select another chapter, or it will go away. It's been like that for years. Doesn't this annoy anyone else?
    0
  • Anonymous
    By the title of these 2 articles, I was anticipating some information regarding how I can diagnose and fix issues with my WiFi. Whereas now I have a greater understanding of what issues can arise and what router to use in an office setting, I still do not know how to diagnose my own crappy WiFi performance or how to fix it. While I applaud your efforts, I imagine most readers do not have 60 laptops and 5 ipads in their home...
    -2