When presenting on the Samsung Wi-Fi solutions, I am frequently asked, “How far will your access point reach?”
Let’s turn the tables for a minute – how far will your Wi-Fi client reach?
Regardless of reach, the simplest answer I can give is that any AP reach depends heavily on the environment it’s intended to cover. Wall construction is just one signal-affecting variable. For example, a warehouse with a wide-open floor plan receives a much larger coverage area than a school built with heavy concrete walls.
Density also plays a role in deciding how vast an access point’s coverage area should be. If a large number of people aren’t expected to simultaneously use the Wi-Fi network and you are simply after complete coverage, design your solution using larger coverage cells. However, if you do expect a large number of people congregated in one area connected to Wi-Fi, smaller coverage cells are more appropriate so the load can be split across multiple access points.
So yes, I always point back to the client devices. In my experience, the client device is normally the weakest link and should always be a consideration. Keep in mind that in mobility, devices are designed to preserve battery life. This means that they are not going to be transmitting at full power. Think of it this way – the smaller the device, the smaller the battery, the lower the transmission power.
Imagine this scenario:
If the AP is turned up to the highest available power setting, it transmits at 30dBm. This provides a good-sized coverage cell. However, if the client device is only capable of transmitting at 15dBm, it will not be able to transmit back to the access point despite having a large coverage cell. This means that the packets won’t be acknowledged by either side, and both devices will keep retransmitting packets resulting in very poor performance.
Would you design your network in such a way that client devices are not able to transmit back to the AP?
Truth be told, all of these scenarios should be considered when determining how much area an access point will cover. Knowing the environment will help determine how far the Wi-Fi signal will propagate; knowing the number of devices or user density will help you understand how large the coverage cells should be; and knowing the client device capability will help determine your weakest link.