Steering Clear of Wi-Fi Congestion from 5Ghz Mobile Devices
Last time I wrote about how band steering fixed a university Wi-Fi problem. My second story comes from a private K-12 school that was in the middle of an all-Apple deployment, with iPads for each student k-12 and MacBooks as well for all of the high school students.
Due to the proximity of the local airport the school wanted to avoid the DFS channels and they quickly discovered that their 5Ghz channels were becoming saturated while their 2.4Ghz radios were going largely unused. Investigation to confirm this suspicion showed that only 2 devices, or less than 1% of their roughly 225 clients were on the 2.4Ghz band.
This was a classic case of too much of a good thing. Like at the large university, I explained Band steering and we turned it on before we went to lunch. For this location we chose to configure an 60/40 split of 5Ghz to 2.4Ghz band association in order to keep the 2.4Ghz band predominantly for guest usage. After we returned from lunch we discovered that 40 devices had migrated over to the 2.4Ghz band representing a roughly 83/17 ratio across the 2 bands. The school was quite excited by the prospect of this new capability.
As I said when I opened this post, there are plenty of features in the Wi-Fi industry that are contentious, and band steering is often one of those. But I, for one, am a fan of this technology and what it does for a deployed Wi-Fi network. I think these two examples show how a couple of clicks can really get an IT department and end-users excited about wireless networking when things are really working. A truly mobile work force is a powerful thing!
It is after days like those when the stories above happened that I look back on my day and think fondly, "Wi-Fi sure is cool!"