Subscribers to the boundless digital magazine will receive a regular digest of the most recently posted content.

How to meet the iPad demand for a scad of Wi-Fi signal strength

By Matthew Gast in · Blog · September 1, 2011

In July, Aerohive announced a new addition to our line-up of enterprise 802.11n wireless access points: the 3-spatial stream HiveAP 330 and HiveAP 350Aerohive HiveAP
In this post, I’ll be writing about the technology and engineering behind the radio card photos, and why I pried apart the radio cards to show off the discrete components.

One of the biggest challenges facing enterprise wireless network administrators is that every day is “Take Your iPad to Work Day.” Like most consumer-focused devices, the iPad is small, and its sleek aluminum case is an excellent signal blocker if the back of the iPad is facing your access point. Many portable Wi-Fi devices are battery-powered, and the antenna design takes a back seat to the overall styling of the device. Antenna designers make do with the space they are given, and the Wi-Fi radio is often a low-power transceiver to extend battery life as much as possible.

To cope with a flood of faintly-transmitting devices, Aerohive focused on improving the receiver sensitivity in our most recent APs. If the most common devices send at low power, the infrastructure side of the network needs to work better with the signal that we’re given. One way this is often put is “rate over range,” that is, at a given distance, what can be done to improve signal quality. Or, in technical speak, what can be done to improve the signal quality by reducing the average Error Vector Magnitude. I made several attempts at explaining error vector magnitude in written form, but what I found is that the only way I felt comfortable with the explanation was to be able to draw on a whiteboard.

Therefore, I give you Aerohive’s first video blog:

Next time, I think I’ll avoid wearing a white shirt in front of a whiteboard.

Matthew Gast (@MatthewSGast)

Matthew Gast is Director of Advanced Technology at Aerohive Networks. He currently serves as chair of both the Wi-Fi Alliance's security task groups, was the first chair of the Wireless Network Management Marketing task group, and is the past chair of the IEEE 802.11 revision task group. Matthew is also the author of 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide (O'Reilly), which is now in its second edition and has been translated into six languages. His companion book, 802.11n book, 802.11n: A Survival Guide (O’Reilly), was recently published and provides information on how 802.11n works and what it means for the WLAN planning process. Most recently, Matthew completed 802.11ac: A Survival Guide (O'Reilly).