Cisco Meraki dashboard user

Wireless Network Design Guide

Everything you need to know before you purchase and deploy a high-capacity, secure wireless network

Your challenge is to provide a fast and secure wireless solution that will support your business and it’s end-users year after year.

With technology changing at such a blistering and unforgiving pace, you need to always have the right wireless system in place to maintain proper performance and a productive user experience.

The first thing to consider when deploying wireless is regarding radio frequency or RF and where you want to provide wireless access.

It’s not as easy as just broadcasting a strong signal for devices to associate (connect) to.

In large-scale environments you’ll have many different types of devices, users, and areas to cover. It’s also important to consider how the Wi-Fi is being used in different areas of your business.

To get the best results, here are some factors to consider:

Coverage

Coverage can be defined as the areas where you want your end-users and devices to be able to attach (connect) to the wireless network. It’s important to answer these two questions:

  • Where do I need RF coverage? Indoors? Outdoors? Both?
  • How much throughput (bandwidth/speed) do you want to set as your benchmark?

Tip: Never try and use access points (routers) that were made for residential environments. They are not the same as enterprise grade hardware and will be a waste of time and money.

Capacity

Each wireless access point can handle a certain number of wireless clients or devices connecting to the network.

This means that you need to consider the areas that may present a high number of users. Typically, the more users in a particular area the more important that area should be considered. The number of devices connecting to networks should show no sign of slowing down, and applications are consuming ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth. Administrators must deploy wireless networking that meets mission-critical standards and can deliver the performance needed to provide high-quality, reliable wireless services.

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Cisco Meraki includes powerful, automated RF optimization system delivers high-performance wireless in high density environments and under challenging interference conditions. Wireless network configuration and client settings are automatically adapted to changing performance and interference conditions, without the need for tedious and manual tuning of wireless parameters.

Cisco Meraki APs are custom-designed for cloud management and are built with enhanced CPU and memory capabilities to enable rich services, including Layer 7 application traffic shaping at the network edge.

Industry-leading concurrent 802.11ac, such as in the MR53, and 802.11n 3-stream MIMO radios deliver aggregate data rates of up to 1.9 Gbps, while cloud-based RF optimization with spectrum analysis ensures that Cisco Meraki APs are automatically tuned for highest performance.

Performance

Knowing a little about your RF environment will go a long way in helping to plan an optimal WLAN. This is where a site survey can come in handy.

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Cisco Meraki APs have been deployed and proven in the most demanding environments, supporting more than 100 users per AP and collectively serving hundreds of Megabits per second of user traffic to thousands of devices. By eliminating traditional hardware controllers, Cisco Meraki also eliminates the performance bottleneck that often chokes high-density wireless deployments.

Built-in technologies such as band steering, per-user bandwidth limits, Layer 7 application traffic shaping, and cloud-assisted RF optimization maximize performance in the most challenging RF environments.

Applications & Devices

Knowing how many devices will be accessing the network, what types of devices there will be and what applications be running on the system are critical elements of every successful design.

Cisco Meraki offers the only solution that provides unified management of mobile devices, Macs, PCs, and the entire network from a centralised dashboard. Enforce device security policies, deploy software and apps, and perform remote, live troubleshooting on thousands of managed devices.

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Systems Manager monitors each of your organisation’s devices, showing useful metrics such as client hardware/software information and recent location, and even lets administrators remotely lock and erase devices.

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Layer 7 client fingerprinting technology integrated into all Cisco Meraki products lets you see all the devices on your network, with no configuration required. Client devices are automatically identified and classified, letting you distinguish between mobile devices, desktop PCs, see device operating systems, and even see device hardware manufacturers.

Security

How do you secure what your business doesn’t own? How do you secure the different types of devices on your network?

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Device-specific policies can be automatically applied by Cisco Meraki wireless APs to restrict, quarantine, or throttle user-owned devices.

Cisco Meraki client fingerprinting technology immediately recognizes iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac devices, and even lets you apply more restrictive policies for unknown devices.

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In addition to the high-power 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz client-service radios, most Meraki APs pack a dedicated security radio. The radio continuously scans and protects against security threats, senses the RF environment and adapts to interference and automatically configures RF settings to maximise performance.

 

Scalability

In our experience, as soon as you introduce wireless to your users they will want it everywhere.

When planning, take into account a full campus or wireless everywhere plan even though you may only have the budget for a few select locations. This will give you an idea of how big you may need to grow and what solutions can achieve this and accommodate your future needs.

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Systems Manager also makes it easy to define and deploy network settings like wireless connectivity, security settings, and remote VPN access to all devices on your network at once. Instead of manually provisioning devices for network connectivity, or relying on end users to do so, configure settings such as WPA2-Enterprise in the dashboard, and let the cloud push the settings to end-user devices.

Location-Based Services

A location-based service, often known as Real Time Location Services (RTLS), is the ability to physically locate a user or device on a wireless network.

Think of it as GPS inside a building. There has been considerable debate about whether a Wi-Fi Network can handle the capacity of RTLS and if it is accurate enough to locate a device within a reasonable distance.

Built-in location analytics lets you easily gauge guest foot traffic, dwell time, and repeat visits across hotel properties or within specific areas inside buildings. Quickly answer questions like:

  • How many guests use your fitness facilities on a daily basis? Are gyms more popular at certain hotel properties?
  • How long did guests spend at the lobby bar this past week, and how many spent over an hour at the hotel restaurant last Thursday?
  • How many guests return to the same property on a weekly basis and should be targeted for VIP offers or promotions?

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Furthermore, with uploaded floor plans, it’s easy to visualise trends in guest density over time, allowing you to make more informed staffing decisions for your front desk, poolside, or spa facilities.

Future-proof

Seamless over-the-web upgrades deliver significant new features to your current products, increasing the value of your investment. With Cisco Meraki, new features will be delivered as automatic updates so you’ll always be up-to-date with emerging device types and application profiles.

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