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How Wi-Fi Became Mission Critical

February 10, 2016 by Ixia Blog Team

Wi-Fi Killed the Ethernet Port

My daughter is almost a teenager and has been using technology for the last seven years of her life. She has never touched an Ethernet cable. At this point I am not certain she ever will. Almost all of her computing is done over Wi-Fi or mobile networks, and I would be willing to bet that is true for almost all of her friends. Business is well into the Wi-Fi transition too, with laptops and tablets replacing the old desktop as workers expect mobility. Companies are eliminating Ethernet drops in their offices to reduce costs. Wireless is how we do computing now. What impact does that have on our mobile devices?

 

In the search for thinner and lighter devices the Ethernet port seems like it is first on the chopping block due to its large size and limited use. That shutterstockwifismallmeans that we, our devices, and the companies we do business with are almost totally reliant on Wi-Fi to perform to our expectations. Wi-Fi performance and reliability have a major impact on the user experience for these devices. Unfortunately a Xirrus survey found that 84% of people have experienced bad Wi-Fi that kept them from doing their jobs. It is getting so bad that Cisco and Apple just released a report basically saying corporate Wi-Fi deployments should abandon the 2.4 Ghz band as interference is too high. While I can certainly see their point, it might not be possible to abandon 2.4 Ghz altogether in the near-term. Many devices operate exclusively in those bands, and replacement would be costly. Rather than abandoning that spectrum, perhaps improving device and infrastructure handling of these sometimes crowded networks would be better.

 

Wi-Fi Reliability Affects Brands and the Bottom Line

In the last year I have returned two different consumer devices from name-brand companies because their Wi-Fi did not work reliably. Unreliable connectivity made the other amazing features I had bought them for rather useless. While Wi-Fi was an annoyance on the consumer devices I returned, it becomes much more critical when your loved one is hooked up to a patient monitor that is talking to the nurse’s station via Wi-Fi. Or when a security camera does not record images of a break-in at a small business due to network issues. Companies need to ensure that their Wi-Fi falls into the “it just works” category, or it will slow their sales and growth as trust of their brand is broken. This is especially true now that mobile is the way most of us access the Internet.

 

Wi-Fi Testing for Fun and Profit

OK, maybe it is not as fun as a day at the beach, however our customers are certainly finding it to be profitable (and helping to free up time to go to the beach). How? Years ago this testing was manual and required multiple testing devices, but today there are easy and cost-effective ways to validate Wi-Fi performance across devices and environments. Ixia can automate Wi-Fi performance and reliability tests to ensure it works every time in every device. The best news is that the industry is finding it is cheaper to test up front. For example, we are working with a major computer manufacturer who only did functional testing of their Wi-Fi interfaces on shipping products. After months of issues on a recent product family they realized the costs of support, returns, and reduced customer experience were costing them significantly more than testing. With Wi-Fi testing they are now saving money and their customers even happier with their products.