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What performance issues do users face due to wireless interference problems in an enterprise setting?

Q:

What performance issues do users face due to wireless interference problems in an enterprise setting?

A:

Wireless and radio interference problems can be a significant source of problems and frustrations for those administrating an enterprise wireless network. Local area networks and other kinds of enterprise or business networks can be vulnerable to different kinds of interference from certain types of infrastructure, some types of household items, and even other wireless systems in the immediate area.

Many of the problems caused by wireless interference involve latency. There are several ways in which this type of interference can lead to poor performance or slowdowns for 802.11 wireless systems.

With many types of signal noise, parts of a wireless network will actually stop transmitting signals or transferring packets until they get the “all clear” or perceive a clear path for transmission. That means many instances of wireless interference provoke access points or parts of a wireless infrastructure to hold off transmitting until the signal interaction ends. In other cases, systems may simply switch to a lower data rate, which also will have an impact on performance and slow down data transfer.

The latency itself is problematic in data-intensive systems and real-time aggregation of data. It's problematic for users who may be attempting to upload or make input into a wireless network, or who are trying to get information out of it. For example, many kinds of service businesses have customer-facing service or booking engines tied to deeper business intelligence and ERP tools, all of which can be slowed down by signal interference. In some cases, the latency leads to timing problems with firewalls and other security infrastructure.

In general, signal interference degrades the high-speed performance of the network. It's something that companies struggle to deal with, and many turn to solutions like a wired backhaul system for an enterprise network. This is particularly effective if everything in the business network is contained in one building. Companies can wire systems together to make them impervious to signal interruptions, and with technologies like Google Fiber, they can connect wired systems to even more fundamentally protected forms of data transmission.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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