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

Benchmark Results: Mid-Range, 1 Versus 60 Clients

Now we get to the fun stuff. If there was ever a question whether nearby devices could cause interference with your own Wi-Fi connection, these tests should prove the answer. Compare the 102 to 136 Mb/s seen on the prior page’s no-interference downlink tests with these numbers. HP, Cisco, and Aruba hold up fairly well, only giving up 30 or 40 Mb/s. Meraki and Apple are simply crushed.

Uplink performance in the face of 61 interfering devices tells the same story, only worse. Apple manages to limp along and complete the test. Meraki simply rolls over and gives up part-way through the test run.

In these circumstances, Ruckus’ adaptability can come into full play. Beamforming, spatial multiplexing, polarization diversity, and all the rest assist with the downlink. If nothing else, the ability to ignore interference through the use of directional antennas (see part 1, page 16) clearly benefits Ruckus’ uplink performance.

Again, pinpointing exact reasons why this or that access point falls on its face would be largely speculative. We could mention that Apple and Meraki are the two least-expensive APs in our group, and maybe the “you get what you pay for” principle is dominating these results. After all, whatever the marketing bullet points say, you don’t get a luxury sedan for the price of an econobox.

Moreover, you might be starting to see a pattern here with Cisco. Like Ruckus, Cisco suffers at short range, but at longer distances, Cisco performs well, even against a storm of interference. Clearly, Cisco put a lot of attention into refining its receive sensitivity, which would explain the 3502i’s second-place showing in our uplink test here.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
72 comments
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Quote:
    However, when push came to shove,

    what does this clause mean???
    -8
  • When will Part 1 get a makeover like this?
    2
  • 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
  • In the page "Benchmark Results: Close Range, No Interference", the HP AP is missing on the downlink graph.
    3
  • 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
  • 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
  • Why not include Aerohive?
    1
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • rebel1280 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
  • 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
  • Isn't it Cisco Aironet, not Aeronet?
    2
  • 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
  • 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