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Wireless Networks Causing Headaches For Businesses

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the help-desks-needing-help dept.

Wireless Networking 187

ElvaWSJ writes "Wi-Fi was supposed to reduce complications, not create new ones. But in many offices Wi-Fi has been a headache. Like all radio signals, Wi-Fi is subject to interference. Its low power — less than even a typical cellphone — means that walls and cabinets can significantly reduce signal strength. Wi-Fi also creates networks that are more open than wired ones, raising security issues. And Wi-Fi has caused problems for virtual private networks. Some VPNs require a lot of processing power. If a wireless access point — at home, at the office, or on the road — isn't robust enough, a user often gets bumped off the connection."

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Um... (4, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653041)

Duh?

Re:Um... (3, Funny)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653097)

Was that a tag, or a comment? Either way, it fits.

Bullshit (2, Informative)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655427)

VPNs require exactly the same amount of processing power on an access point as any other network application. The access point doesn't encrypt or decrypt anything on a VPN. All it sees are packets and frames, regardless of the application.

Re:Um... (2, Informative)

YouTookMyStapler (1057796) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653165)

It really shouldn't be a surprise that a wi-fi signal gets weaker as you move away from the source. This would be the same as people saying "I had no idea that the further away from a cell tower you get the weaker the reception."

"It was almost like if you wanted to have remote access, you'd better expect to not have a good experience," says Mr. Friemann, 38 years old, who is based in Cherry Hill, N.J.


Some people are just so negative.

Only on Slashdot: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653647)

"Um.. Duh?" (Score: 5, Insightful)

Re:Um... (2, Informative)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653885)

This is one of the reasons I am greatly anticipating Sprint's new WIMAX wireless broadband network. [gizmodo.com]

I think it will be one of those breakthroughs where you won't even realize how cool it is until you start seeing people wandering around with wireless devices that "just work", anywhere, without much thought of how or why.

Re:Um... (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655355)

Anyone remember Sprint's failed Broadband Direct? I had it back in the late 90's in San Jose. It was basically cablemodem type speeds over wireless, but the latency was HORRIBLE, and so was the reliability. Let's see if they can do wireless internet RIGHT this time...

No, not duh (3, Interesting)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653965)

That's not the actual worst thing. I can handle all the "access from anywhere", that was what it's designed to do. The worst thing is when the access point sometimes decides to reset (I have a Linksys AP) and it reverts back to it's original, OPEN SETTINGS. I go to work one day and I notice that the AP changed its ssid back to "linksys", giving free access to everyone within the radius for the past week.

Seriously, wtf.

Well Then... (4, Insightful)

AdmNaismith (937672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653107)

Make sure there are some bloody data ports where they are useful. The gods know how many office conference rooms I have walked into where there are two power/data/phone outlets on the far ends of the room behind heavy credenzas, instead of in the middle of the room accessible from the table top. Otherwise just blanket the place with WiFi and suck it up.

Re:Well Then... (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653319)

Having talked with a few guys in my neck of the woods that sell themselves as network architects, I have the feeling that most of these guys really don't have the vaguest idea how to properly plan and roll out a network. They're too lazy, or their bosses are too cheap, to put in, maintain and extend a decent wired network, and so buy into the idea that going out and buying some NetGear routers and access points will mean everything is hunky dorey. Then, as the months roll by, and people have an increasing number of problems both with security and with basic access, the whole pile of steaming crap starts to unravel.

To my mind anyone who comes up to me and says "Our network has problems, and I can't keep my VPN up because they put in a new partition walli n accounting" is pretty much stating that whoever it is that maintains and plans their network ought to be forceably removed from the building.

Re:Well Then... (2, Interesting)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654815)

We've recently had a lot of thought put into upgrading our school network as part of a multi-million refit. Some smartass thought it'd be clever to say "We want everything wireless". It was gonna be as well, until all the IT techs looked at the plans and basically said "If you do that, we're resigning".

Result - every permanent terminal (ie in the ICT rooms, PCs which drive the virtual whiteboards etc) is hardwired, and each classroom has its own AP to allow for portable devices. Some rooms like the art classrooms - which are frequently subject to 30(ish) tablet PCs in use at once, will have two. The whole thing is held together by a swine of a network architecture, which involves routers all over the place. It's going to be great fun

The original smartass now isn't let near the plans.

Conference rooms (3, Interesting)

sczimme (603413) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654023)

The gods know how many office conference rooms I have walked into where there are two power/data/phone outlets on the far ends of the room behind heavy credenzas, instead of in the middle of the room accessible from the table top.

Conference rooms are often populated by guests. I would not be surprised if your local security policy states that guests are not permitted to connect to the company network: having no easily-accessible jacks can be a decent physical security measure. Of course, this requires that guests not be left unattended, etc.

The placement of the credenza is either a calculated security move or a blunder of forehead-slapping magnitude, depending on your outlook. :-)

Re:Conference rooms (2, Funny)

CthulhuDreamer (844223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655155)

I'll go with forehead-slapping. Our company ordered all new furniture for the offices: big heavy desks with attached credenzas and file drawers, all with solid wood privacy panels pushed up against the wall jacks on three walls of each office. It took weeks to disassemble the furniture, rewire with low-profile plugs, then reassemble everything.

Re:Well Then... (2, Interesting)

mrbooze (49713) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654197)

At my company we kept having whole networks on some office floors go down periodically. Supposedly, the problem was tracked down to the switches they had sitting in conference rooms. Apparently, if someone for some reason plugged a cable from one port directly into another port, this caused that whole vlan to become unusable. (Why would someone do that? Apparently, some people are stupid.)

The response was to remove all switches/hubs from conference rooms. When it was suggested that we just put up signs that say "Don't do that" that idea was shot down because then people would *know* how to bring the network down and could do it maliciously.

The whole thing made no sense to me, that a network could be *that* fragile, but the network team was reluctant to explain details, and the end result was never enough network ports in conference rooms.

Surprising! (5, Insightful)

gen0c1de (977481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653121)

Not really, if you are a business that is deploying wifi as a solution to allow laptop users to move around fine, however if it is cheap solution to installing hard wired cables to each desk then someone needs to be re-informed about the pitfalls.

Re:Surprising! (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653577)

I hear you- I was hired by my girlfriends company (5 people) to help "upgrade" their systems after a renovation. They decided to rip out the already installed Cat5 and go with an all-wireless network before they had contacted me. I told them this was going to cause more problems than it solved, but they still had me go ahead with it. Now I get at least one phone call a week because the wireless print server I had to install isn't working, one person can't get online, or some other such nonsense.

Wireless connections shouldn't be used in the office for all the issues mentioned in TFA. Wireless will never replace a good, solid wired connection. (watch me eat those words in ten years...)

Re:Surprising! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654273)

Why did your girlfriend hire such a retard?

And why rip out the cat5 instead of keeping it and supplementing it with wireless?

Re:Surprising! (2, Informative)

gen0c1de (977481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654673)

It sounds like the people she works for don't understand technology and just don't like wires, and to top it off i bet you they are the same people that go and by the 39.99 Netgear wifi router for there office solution. There are a lot of business owners like that so it doesn't really surprise me, and it shouldn't come down on the person head that actually installed the stuff as they may not have had any say in the decision.

drivers (1)

mrsmiggs (1013037) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653125)

Alot of problems are caused by poorly written drivers, if I haven't done so before the first thing I do when someone presents with poor wireless connectivity is update their drivers and ditch the 3rd party software connection software.

Re:drivers (3, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653263)

Oddly enough, with D-Link cards I've noticed that the third party connection software (D-Link Connection Manager) often works better than the Windows wireless network manager.

Re:drivers (-1, Troll)

JPribe (946570) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654497)

I suppose you want me to recompile the kernel while I'm at it....

Supplement not Replacement (5, Insightful)

jeffy210 (214759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653129)

Wifi should be a supplement for larger areas with changing configurations (meeting rooms, conference rooms, etc) not as a replacement for a typical wired setup. Unless you plan on constantly rearranging your cubes, there's no reason to do that. Also you should think of the two networks as being completely separate and treat the wireless network as a public access point (i.e. force VPN access to the wired portion of your network).

I see the problem coming in where people think it's a wired replacement.

Re:Supplement not Replacement (2, Insightful)

The-Ixian (168184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653271)

Yep, that is exactly how I have it set up here. I cringe every time I go into a new client site and see them using OPEN wireless access points as an extension of their wired LAN. At the very least encrypt it....

Re:Supplement not Replacement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653475)

Heck, I do this at home. It's pretty easy with DD-WRT/OpenWRT, etc. I think it might be overkill though, since I live alone...

Re:Supplement not Replacement (3, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653489)

Yep, that is exactly how I have it set up here. I cringe every time I go into a new client site and see them using OPEN wireless access points as an extension of their wired LAN. At the very least encrypt it....

There's no good reason to use encryption in a corporate environment. Put all the wireless APs in the DMZ, so that they're outside the network, and leave the APs open. That way you don't have to make users screw around trying to get WEP/WPA/whatever to work, or use crummy MAC-based authentication schemes (that are a steaming pile anyway; whoever decided authentication based on MAC addresses was a good idea should be shot). Until you do that, wireless security is (in my experience anyway) harmful, because it makes the PHBs think they're on a "secure network" and shouldn't have to VPN. And once you require everyone to VPN when they use wireless, there's no point in using WEP/WPA on top of it (particularly considering that WEP is so broken as to be useless, and lots of devices don't support WPA).

The problem isn't lack of encryption, it's putting wireless APs in on the trusted side of the network at all. Avoid doing that, and treat someone connecting from an AP just like you'd treat someone connecting from Kalamazoo (meaning they have to connect via a VPN and authenticate), and you avoid most of the security vulnerabilities that plague wireless installs.

Clarification (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653535)

There's no good reason to use encryption in a corporate environment.

I mean, there's no reason to use client-to-accesspoint encryption. Instead you should be encrypting directly from the client to the VPN gateway.

Re:Supplement not Replacement (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654967)

(particularly considering that WEP is so broken as to be useless, and lots of devices don't support WPA).
If you find me a decent handheld 5250 thin client that will run openVPN, and tell me a way to make my zebra ql420 printers use it too, i will ship you a case/box/keg/whatever of your favorite beer.

Re:Supplement not Replacement (2, Insightful)

wperry1 (982543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655047)

This may be a good way to protect your servers and other internal systems but without encryption enabled you still allow anyone to hop on your WiFi and attempt to hack your clients.

Re:Supplement not Replacement (2, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653681)

Wifi should be a supplement for larger areas with changing configurations (meeting rooms, conference rooms, etc) not as a replacement for a typical wired setup. Unless you plan on constantly rearranging your cubes, there's no reason to do that.

Except cash. Installing cabling can be quite expensive. A 5 person office could easily cost £500 to cable up, including health & safety inspections (which may or may not be mandatory depending on your locality, but are almost always a good idea when installing cables around employees). Wireless networking hardware for that same office might come in at £300. Savings almost certainly scale up with larger offices.

There are other reasons, too... I visited an IBM office a few years back where the employees were expected to "hot desk": they didn't have an assigned place to work, and when turning up just found a free desk anywhere and hooked in to the wireless network. They had a mobile phone base unit, so their mobile phones turned into office phones while they were in the building, etc. Management ensured there were slightly fewer convenient places to work than there were employees in the building on an average day -- encourages people to turn up early.

If there was a mobile phone base unit.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654161)

hooked into the phone system of the office, Why wasn't there a simple ethernet jack along with it?

How to correct the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653135)

Supplement the interference-prone air based connection with a direct conductive wire. Transmit signals over wire. Bingo!

It strikes me this may even be used to get around such obstacles like e.g. metal walls.

low power -- less than even a typical cellphone (3, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653137)

Good thing it doesn't have to work over as great a distance as a cell phone then. It's almost as it it was designed that way!

Re:low power -- less than even a typical cellphone (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653767)

The real problem is that the frequency is substantially higher than mobile phone frequencies. 2.4GHz has substantially less capacity to penetrate stuff that might be in the way than 900MHz.

boost it (1)

billmcc (1120481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653143)

9dB antennas are cheap and work great.

Re:boost it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653641)

Perhaps adding some kind of Low Noise Block Down-Converters [miteq.com] ?

Now... that would be great!

Transmitter power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653149)


lets see poor transmitter power output, integrated 1/8th wave PCB antennas, microwave frequencies, $3 of electronics
gee i wonder why its crap ?

Re:Transmitter power (4, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653255)

lets see poor transmitter power output, integrated 1/8th wave PCB antennas, microwave frequencies, $3 of electronics
gee i wonder why its crap ?
1) To keep the cost down. Even 'commercial-grade' access points use inexpensive components to help keep the costs down to the point that people can afford them. Compare the cost of ham radio -- and then consider if you would buy a WAP that had that amount tacked on the sale price.

2) Government regulation. Governments around the world regulate these 2.4 GHz-range frequencies and given the number of devices in the range, transmitter power is kept necessarily low by regulation.

3) To keep the equipment from interfering with other devices such as cellphones, 2.4Ghz-range walkie talkies, and countless other devices that use this frequency range. See #2.

I've always heard... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653153)

...that it takes more wire to set up a good wireless network than it does to set up a wired network. The number of APs required to get good, even coverage is far larger than anyone thinks, and the overall complexity tends to really tax all by the best installers.

Re:I've always heard... (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653183)

it takes more wire to set up a good wireless network than it does to set up a wired network.

It still might be cheaper, because in many (most?) cases you pay per drop and not per foot. If you're paying for both, it still might come out cheaper.

Of course, as you probably^Walmost certainly know already, WiFi is a better fit for edge conditions than it is for every computer in your network (even if you don't count servers.)

Re:I've always heard... (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653415)

I've always heard that it takes more wire to set up a good wireless network than it does to set up a wired network.

guess it really depends on a number of things. We have found that it works best for our critical deployment (and I do mean critical) that you need a seperate backbone than your network. You can setup a bunch of repeaters that are not wired (In AZ, their solar powered, battery backed) but then when you get something at high bandwith, the users at the end of the line ends up less reliable (data shaping and the like is where the best installers overcome this.)

So the extra wiring your talking about is for the backbone to the AP's. Since 802.11a hasn't really taken off in WiFi devices. What we did was ran a 802.11a backbone with directed antenna's that was eithernet connected to the 802.11b access point (3" ethernet cable, not 300' fiber optic)

That actually cures alott of things, since the 11.a backbone is higher bandwith, and because of higher gain antennas (fixed destinations) their is not a significant difference in bandwith to the last AP, and a minimal number of hops, and all the things used for discovery, authentication, etc, etc can be mostly disabled on the backbone (assuming you want your main WiFi to be open to discovery.)

Of course you need more power to do wireless, so if thats the wiring you mean, then absolutly.

Metal objects block radio (5, Insightful)

also-rr (980579) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653167)

News at 11.

I used to do wireless mesh network algorythm development and we had (with 802.11b) acceptable, AES encrypted, coverage of a motor factory (think *lots* of wire and EM) with nodes running on 200mhz arm systems and 64mb of ram. No problems with VOIP either. You just need to do some (ok, expensive) system design and there's no reason why it wont work. In the demo system the nodes updated their routing tables using a ropey bash script even :)

Expecting that off the shelf gear can magically set itself up is the problem, not the protocol itself (which can be worked around in many interesting ways).

Re:Metal objects block radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653983)

How many AP's did you use?

Re:Metal objects block radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654313)

We too had a 200millihertz arm system in our office a while ago.

Weird name though, "Selectric" or something like that.

Haven't we heard this before? (0, Redundant)

Natros (985857) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653213)

In other news, a new study shows Water is usually wet! Details at 10...

Slashdot has sunk to a new low... (-1, Flamebait)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653243)

When Wall Street Journal *technical* articles are posted as "news for nerds"

Re:Slashdot has sunk to a new low... (1)

The-Ixian (168184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653339)

you still took the time to read and comment on it, now didn't you?

Re:Slashdot has sunk to a new low... (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654201)

What's your point? That it must have been useful because I read it? No. It wasn't. The issue is the dumbing down of slashdot, once an insightful and witty place, into a forum of "firm grasp of the obvious" articles and posts.

Re:Slashdot has sunk to a new low... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653389)

I can almost guarantee my boss read this, and he's been pushing for wireless for a while now. This is an excellent heads up, as far as I'm concerned.

My biggest problem with the wireless he wants isn't even the wireless...I can deal with that. It's the fact that he wants to do the wireless to make up for the deficiencies of the wired network. But of course, he's not paying for the fiber drops we're going to need, so we're going to have massive network bottlenecks. Oy vey. Everyone thinks they can get something for nothing.

Re:Slashdot has sunk to a new low... (1)

breckinshire (891764) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653509)

Johnson, get your ass back to work! And for the last time, I'm as regular as a Swiss clock, so keep your fiber drops to yourself!

Re:Slashdot has sunk to a new low... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653703)

it's better then the endless blog postings that now pass as news around here. 90% of them are upright trolls of fanboi rants.

What's next? (1)

xinjiang77 (1106823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653261)

The future seems bleak for a service like WiFi. Seeing as it is a fairly new breakthrough, large corporations have not yet capitalized on it, the WiFi Alliance is the only major controlling body of the communication, and that is a nonprofit organization. Much as Microsoft capitalized on the computer industry, making mainstream, insecure computers, I expect a number of corporations to begin buying WiFi rights and making the system even less secure.

Corporate Solution (3, Funny)

TheMadcapZ (868196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653267)

At some point companies may wrap the exterior of the building with Faraday mesh to prevent radio signals from exiting the building with any significant range. External radio signals could be ported and broadcast within the building similar to the project to extend radio station signals into road tunnels as test in Pittsburgh, Pa. This would allow the company to control the signals that enter and exit the building while also allowing for cellphones and radios to work.

Now the cost to benefit ratio of such a system would most likely kills the idea unless the security of the network was highly valued.

Where's the sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653305)

Where's the sense in trying to make the whole office wireless?
Yes for home usage (routing proper wires can be too much a pain in the ass, if not impossible.) Yes for lobbies and other uncluttered public open spaces (it's a really nice complimentary service for laptop users.) But no for the main office. Those channels in cube walls and removable carpet tiles were made for a reason folks. In the office workspace it just makes more sense to stick with the ethernet, not to mention it significantly reduces the potential for unauthorized access to the network in addition to other problems.

This caught my eye (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653327)

"Things got so bad that Mr. Friemann sometimes had employees piggyback on a neighboring business's wireless connection that was more stable -- without the other business's consent or knowledge." -- Ok so your neighbor could set up a network which worked fine even for you whom, presumably, are further away from his source than you are from your own. Despite this its somehow the technologies fault? WiFi is fine, established, and mature this admins understanding of it is not. and then there is this -- "Some wireless networking companies are taking steps to try to deal with customers' problems. One major issue is the stability of the wireless signal. Ruckus Wireless Inc., a wireless networking company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., tries to address that problem by providing wireless access points that have multiple antennas. That allows a Wi-Fi signal to have more than one pathway to an access point -- which can come in handy if something is in the way." -- Its called a cable folks, there are plenty of ways to rig antennas and get them in existing wap points. Thats not to say there is no value in what Ruckus is doing just that its not like we cant do that.

Re:This caught my eye, lets try formatting ;) (3, Interesting)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653383)

"Things got so bad that Mr. Friemann sometimes had employees piggyback on a neighboring business's wireless connection that was more stable -- without the other business's consent or knowledge."

--

Ok so your neighbor could set up a network which worked fine even for you whom, presumably, are further away from his source than you are from your own. Despite this its somehow the technologies fault? WiFi is fine, established, and mature this admins understanding of it is not.

and then there is this

--

"Some wireless networking companies are taking steps to try to deal with customers' problems. One major issue is the stability of the wireless signal. Ruckus Wireless Inc., a wireless networking company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., tries to address that problem by providing wireless access points that have multiple antennas. That allows a Wi-Fi signal to have more than one pathway to an access point -- which can come in handy if something is in the way."

--

Its called a cable folks, there are plenty of ways to rig antennas and get them in existing wap points. Thats not to say there is no value in what Ruckus is doing just that its not like we cant do that.

Security, security, security (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653457)

1 - No radio signal is safe from detection and decryption. There's no way I would trust my business secrets to wifi.

2 - There have been so many laptops stolen with highly sensitive files. There's no way I would let my employees connect their laptops to a network where they have access to such files.

So my solution is: A wired network for desktops. No floppies. No USB. The sensitive files stay within the building. Wifi is OK for people to browse the net and do e-mail. There. One wifi point in the lounge and another in the cafeteria. Problem solved.

Re:Security, security, security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653845)

Unless you're planning to run the wifi over a designated pipe isolated from any other company machine, your carefully planned security allgoes out the window the first time some fool tries to do their job via email or surfs a website infected with crapware. Why not just stick one or more of your desktops in the lounge with the crap net-nannied out of them?

Re:Security, security, security (2, Funny)

computational super (740265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654639)

A wired network for desktops. No floppies. No USB. The sensitive files stay within the building.

That doesn't guarantee security. If you really want to take security seriously, post snipers on the roof and have them shoot employees before they can make it into the building.

Re:Security, security, security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655279)

You don't really know what you're talking about. Networking PERIOD isn't necessarily safe. A hell of a lot of 'business' is conducted via Web browsing and the use of Web sites and portals, and a LOT of sensitive information is passed via e-mail and attachments. Think before you type.

More fear mongering (0, Offtopic)

ylikone (589264) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653485)

This is the same as when some were claiming that wireless causes cancer. Now they're blaming every little headache they get on it. Yes, lets blame all our health problems on magic invisible waves.


Notice: I'm not stupid and I do realize it doesn't mean that kind of headache, just playing with your heads... mod be down you wankers

Re:More fear mongering (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655337)

mod be down you wankers

Won't some kind moderator please help out this poor poster? If I had mod points, I'd gladly help. -1 Offtopic, before you could answer the question, "mod be down with what?"

Site survey (2, Informative)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653497)

Before rolling out a big business wireless network, the installers should do a check of existing interference, then setup a simple access point/client and check it out in different places using a spectrum analyzer [circuitcellar.com] . Just like cable techs sometimes need a cat-5 analyser to trouble wiring plant problems, the wireless tech needs an instrument to measure the rf environment.

Heck, my wireless pda loses signal while standing near the microwave popping pop corn. Some buildings, especially in industrial areas, can get lousy with interference [wikipedia.org]

Easy solution. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653499)

Wireless Networks Causing Headaches For Businesses

A tin-foil hat. The problem goes away.

(You want me to read the what?)

WiFi and business do not mix. (0)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653529)

WiFi should not be used in a business setting, period. Anything important should be limited to the wired network. If I was a SysAdmin at a company, I would make it an important policy to have all people using laptops keep WiFi turned off at all times when on campus. With regard to people working in the field: use a VPN over a wired connection, or else. Most hotels have wired Internet connectivity for guests. If a wired connection is unavailable, use dialup. End of story.

WiFi was built for convenience of home users, not for enterprise. It is a technology that does not belong in enterprise networking. Period.

No cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653721)

You're an idiot.

To explain WHY I called you and idiot, I work for a company that sells, among other things, home automation equipment. Much of this equipment uses zigbee, but the controllers, which you have to program, use WiFi.

If we paid attention to retards like you, I COULD NOT DO MY JOB (as in, IT'S NOT POSSIBLE) because many of these devices DO NOT HAVE 8P8C jacks. YOU CAN'T plug them in to a wired network.

And yet I have to program them. YOU are stupid enough to think that "WiFi should not be used in a business setting, period." and yet, if I listened to you, we'd be out of business.

Never share your opinion again, unless it's about the proper amount of teeth to use when giving a blowjob. You're clearly too fucking moronic to comment on anything else.

PERIOD.

Re:No cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654059)

SSSTINGA!!

Easy Trigger.

Re:No cunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654231)

You know she deserved it.

Re:WiFi and business do not mix. (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653725)

Oh? What about warehouse floors? Ancient buildings where you can't pull new cable for a reasonable cost? Service in open areas?

WiFi is just another technology that has its uses. The problem is that people rarely think about its limitations. However, that problem is not exactly limited to any particular technology, is it? :)

Re:WiFi and business do not mix. (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654031)

The systems that have been in place for many years work just fine... they're called "Sneaker Nets". Even in a warehouse, if the data or the connectivity is important, Wi-Fi is a bad idea. In warehouses, people typically use handheld devices, today. They're much, much, much more reliable than wi-fi.

Re:WiFi and business do not mix. (1)

Dr. Smoove (1099425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654337)

ROFL and I bet you've got lots of enterprise networking experienced. Outlined earlier in this thread, use a WEP or not, you treat the access point as if it's some schmuck connecting from "Kalamazoo" and FORCE your users to VPN in. LOL use dialup, you're a clown. You probably think it's safer to say your credit card number over a POTS line than it is to enter in an SSL session.

VPN (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653541)

Here's my anecdotal report--I've found that real-life Ethernet speeds are lower than theoretical maximums, but there's an even larger difference between real-life and theoretical maximum wireless network speeds. Wireless is fine if you are sharing an internet connection or small files, but if I need to transfer large files, I either use an external drive, or plug both machines into the twisted-pair.

I prefer wired networks for most business installations because I've encountered applications that, when faced with a momentary drop (a second or two) in the wireless connection (which will happen occasionally), hang up. I know a lot of people use wireless because it's easy to set up, but if you have a desktop machine that has a semi-permanent home, I think wired is more reliable and, in some applications, noticeably faster.

Suffice it to say that I've never made regular use of a VPN over the wireless part of a network.

Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (2, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653549)

I have issues at home with this. The roof of my house is made of aluminum (not that cheap corrugated stuff like on a barn, but interlocking strips). This wreaks absolute HAVOC on WiFi signals inside my house.

If I put an access point at one end of the house, I can't pick it up AT ALL from the other end. I'm not talking microscopic SNR, I'm talking ZERO SNR. It's like I don't even have an access point. I'm lucky to get a quarter of the rated bandwidth if I'm only one room away.

For a while I had a ridiculous setup consisting of an access point and two repeaters just to get the signal to the other end of the house. TWO REPEATERS. That's THREE HOPS to travel about 100 feet. And of course, the concommitant loss in data rate due to the repeater action. After a few weeks of that (and even that setup was flaky at best) I said "Fuck it" and dragged a CAT-5e cable across the house. The wife hates it but at least I can use the Internet.

I have no idea how exactly the metal roof is destroying the signal, whether it is causing severe multipath or simply absorbing it completely, but it does it quite effectively.

Re:Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (3, Informative)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653787)

Try putting your WiFi AP in your basement, on a floor joist. If it really is the roof that's giving you grief, that might be far enough away to weaken multipathed signals out of detection.

You could also try decreasing the transmit power if you suspect multipathing. And, of course, lower the basic rate.

Re:Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653961)

What confuses me is that OFDM was specifically designed to be resistant against multipath. I feel embarrassed now -- I've actually implemented OFDM before, and it hadn't occurred to me that if I just turn the data rate down, the guard interval gets longer, potentially long enough to completely ameliorate the multipath effects. I was under the impression that 802.11 automatically negotiated such things, but maybe not? I'm going to try that the second I get home.

Re:Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654165)

If that doesn't work, BTW, you could also try an AP with a better radio.

Signal with the Linksys WRT54G version 1.2 in my house is basically unusable, due to (at least in part) my cordless phones, even with OpenWRT firmware. I can literally be 2 feet away from the AP (with a floor and desk in between) and have it flake out.

And yet, my Routerboard RB532A (w/Mikrotik software) with an Atheros AR5413 radio works like a charm. 100%, all the time, every time, right into my backyard.

Re:Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654199)

Hah. The WRT54G is precisely the AP I've been using. I guess it's time to upgrade.

Re:Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654627)

Hah, that's funny. Maybe that's why I felt like trying to help, I totally feel your pain.

This is what I got, plus the Atheros radio and a 10" or so antenna:

http://www.nwcis.com/store/product_info.php?manufa cturers_id=10&products_id=141 [nwcis.com]

It's probably not cost effective for you (I just took one home from work), but man, these are REALLY nice pieces of kit. If you are somewhat technical, you will be right at home. It's a full IP router, hotspot, DHCP server, etc, in a box. At home I run it as a dumb bridge, at work we use them for a variety of things, including bridges, routers, bandwidth shapers, hot spots ... supports RADIUS, NTP... golly, long list. They have even thought of things like "What happens if you screw up IP -and- don't have a serial cable handy?" ("mac-telnet") ... VRRP, UPNP, IPSec, the list goes on and on.

What I like BEST about them, though, is that you can tweak, tweak, tweak -- it seems as though they were designed by a bunch of overclockers... who knew Cisco IOS and thought the interface sucked donkey dicks.

Here, for example, this is what I can configure for the radio:

[xxxx@YYYY] interface wireless> print
Flags: X - disabled, R - running
  0 name="wlan1" mtu=1500 mac-address=00:02:6F:40:76:C0 arp=enabled disable-running-check=no interface-type=Atheros AR5413
      radio-name="00026F4076C0" mode=ap-bridge ssid="ZZZZZ" area="" frequency-mode=manual-txpower country=no_country_set antenna-gain=0
      frequency=2462 band=2.4ghz-b/g scan-list=default rate-set=default supported-rates-b=1Mbps,2Mbps,5.5Mbps,11Mbps
      supported-rates-a/g=6Mbps,9Mbps,12Mbps,18Mbps,24Mb ps,36Mbps,48Mbps,54Mbps basic-rates-b=1Mbps basic-rates-a/g=6Mbps
      max-station-count=2007 ack-timeout=dynamic tx-power-mode=default noise-floor-threshold=default periodic-calibration=default
      periodic-calibration-interval=60 burst-time=disabled dfs-mode=none antenna-mode=ant-a wds-mode=disabled wds-default-bridge=none
      wds-default-cost=100 wds-cost-range=50-150 wds-ignore-ssid=no update-stats-interval=disabled default-authentication=yes
      default-forwarding=yes default-ap-tx-limit=0 default-client-tx-limit=0 proprietary-extensions=post-2.9.25 hide-ssid=no
      security-profile=default disconnect-timeout=3s on-fail-retry-time=100ms preamble-mode=both compression=no allow-sharedkey=no
[xxxx@YYYY] interface wireless>
I also found the vendor I've linked to do be really with-it and actually able to answer "how do I ...." questions.

The warranty sucks, though. They have to go back to Latvia. Or is it Lithuania? I forget.

Re:Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653829)

I have no idea how exactly the metal roof is destroying the signal, whether it is causing severe multipath or simply absorbing it completely, but it does it quite effectively.

It'll be the former. It can't absorb signals that aren't sent in its direction (which typically the ones you want won't be), but what it can do is reflect back lots of slightly-out-of-phase signals from different points that confuse your receivers. Stick up a metal plate about a metre behind your TV antenna and see what happens to the signal. I'm not sure whether ensuring it's earthed would help here -- it might cause it to absorb more of the signal and reflect less, which could be enough to make your network work.

Re:Some buildings just aren't "Wi-Fi compatible" (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654463)

I also forgot to mention that my cellphone hardly works at all inside, either. I have to literally lean up against a window, or go to one of about 5 "magic spots" in the house where it works. If I waver more than a few inches in any direction, instant dropped call.

while this is a problem.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653553)

a bunch of linux fags spreading aids is a larger problem. let's take care of them first.

Re:while this is a problem.... (1)

jbrandv (96371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654035)

Linux makes cigarettes? Who'da thunk it?

In Soviet Russia... (1)

breckinshire (891764) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653557)

Headaches cause wireless networks!

Poorly designed networks don't work well. (1)

tji (74570) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653597)

This doesn't change for wired or wireless. But, with wireless there may be even more temptation to do it cheaply because everyone has it at home and thinks it's simple. Clearly it wasn't just a technological problem, because the IT guy said he sometimes told people to connect to their neighbor's WiFi. It seems that his WiFi was just unusually poorly implemented.

Step back, look at the network, assess where wired ports are needed and where wireless is the best/only option. Then buy some decent gear that is reliable and manageable (No, not $50 D-Link/Linksys stuff at OfficeMax).

It's not that hard. It just takes a plan, and some effort to do it right.

Simple solution (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653605)

Just paint the outer interior walls of your building or corporation with a few layers of lead-based paint. Hopefully, you do not run a day-care.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653853)

Just paint the outer interior walls of your building or corporation with a few layers of lead-based paint. Hopefully, you do not run a day-care.

Or windows. I love the magical world you live in.

I worked at a wifi-powered place once. (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653711)

...The net went down all the time. Not acceptable for pro use. Brother has wifi at home and it's the same story. It is a main reason that at home I'm still wired up- as a result, the network Just Works, all the time- parts of it run at 1 gigabit/sec. While wifi still seems to have some serious maturing to do, I'll wait a bit more and enjoy the benefits: always up, no concerns about neighbors piggybacking on the connection, and the wife is delighted that I don't take a laptop to bed.

Article begins with wrong premise. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653779)


Wi-Fi was supposed to reduce complications, not create new ones.

No. Wi-Fi was supposed to let you maintain a network connection without wires. For the most part it does that fairly well, just not as well as a wired connection.

If anyone is relying on wi-fi for an always-on, never breaks technology, they're fooling themselves. What wireless technology works like that? Cell phones have been around for at least 30 years and we all still know it's not as reliable as a land line.

Hmmm (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654041)

Doesn't moving to 802.11N and a Radius server mitigate these problems?

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655295)

No, but using 802.1X (the point of a Radius server) with WPA(2) and standard security conventions (firewall, AV, etc) is mostly equivalent to a wired connection for non-supercritical applications. If your wireless infrastructure is robust, without much overlap, you can expect a consistent, even roamable connection.

For the skeptic, I ask, where's the fail point on the above discription that doesn't exist in a wired connection? Hell, if you used 802.1x on your wired connection, it'd be that much better ;)

Re:Hmmm (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655371)

The fail point is that you are still highly vulnerable to DOS attacks - heck, my simple wireless plantronics headset with its great "spectrum hopping feature for clarity" will drop any WAP it gets close to. My real question is, does 802.11 N protect you against DOS attacks in the real world?

WiFi isn't perfect, streaming video on .11 (2, Informative)

maggard (5579) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654051)

Rules of WiFi:

  1. Determine needs. How many users in an area. What kind of usage?
  2. Do a site plan. Where will access points be placed. How will they be networked? How will they be powered?
  3. Test signal propagation. Are there competing nodes? Are there reflections/absorbers?
  4. Evaluate hardware. Is the firmware stable? Are the antennas good enough? How much heat does it produce/can it take? How is it all managed?
  5. Set expectationsof the IT staff, of the managers, of the users.
  6. Plan for hardware failures. I anticipate a 24 month lifespan of each access point, and plan for an up to 10% failure rate in any month.
  7. Monitor, both the internal networks and the general environment. Have a running watch of all access points with alerts for rogue ones, particularly dupes.

Put in dedicated services for visitors with instructions conspicuously posted in conference areas (along with sufficient power supplies.) Inform staff if they are caught using these open systems their devices will be taken away, and if they relied upon such to do their jobs they will then be unsuitable for continued employment.

Finally, consider alternatives to WiFi. There are any number of products that will carry WiFi-equivalent bandwidth over residential wiring. If youre looking to connect fixed devices without running ethernet then these are a no-hassle approach with competitive costs.

My experience (1)

FoxNSox (998422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654341)

I too have had such an experience. I work at a fairly small resort on the beach. We offer WiFi via two access points in the resort. There is such interference, only one person can use the WiFi at a time. If two people connect to the WiFi, the connection drop altogether. We have theorized that this is the result of a couple filing cabinets, and a wall. The WiFi is 2.4GHz, and it cannot even penetrate a single wall!

Am I the only one (2, Interesting)

DFDumont (19326) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654473)

I've done wireless assessments and installations for offices, hotels, school buildings (think bomb shelters) and even manufacturing plants. Anything IS possible, but not if you hire a kid recently graduated from ITT Tech(as an example only) to do it. I'd take a recent physicist graduate first because at least they would understand wave propagation. The use of tools such as Air Magnet make performing such an assessment easier, but a good tool won't fix ignorance.
This actually begs of a greater question within IT - that of the influx of semi-trained, unskilled workers. Ours is the only profession without a professional organization. We have no entrance exam, no licensing structure, no board review.
And DON'T tell me that Sylvan/Prometric certification in any sense means squat. I have no respect for a testing method wherein the correct answer is presented simply for the applicant to pick from. and YES I have them, many of them (MS, Novell, Solaris, Cisco) thus my disdain.
I think we as a profession need to adopt some form of 'guild' structure. 2-yrs as an apprentice followed by a board review WHERE YOU ACTUALLY PERFORM WORK(Think the CCIE practical exam where you configure otherwise blank routers) [Yeah I have that too]. 5-yrs as a journeyman where you expand and deepen your skill followed by another board review to obtain a Mastery level in a particular discipline.
The tradesmen have had this structure for hundreds of years. Lawyers, Doctors and Accountants all have an entrance exam.
Why do we in IT think we're different.

Just my $0.02
Dennis Dumont

Re:Am I the only one (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654955)

Lawyers, Doctors and Accountants all have an entrance exam. Why do we in IT think we're different.
Maybe because we figured out that it didn't work for fixing their problems, so it won't work for ours. People will "game" the system no matter what field they're going into, so why make it so difficult for everyone honest when the dishonest people will find a way around anyway? It's like DRM or (some) gun laws - it only hurts the people who play by the rules.

Re:Am I the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655061)

No, you're not the only one. I think systems would be designed and coded to a much higher standard if your "guild" idea was implemented.

Re:Am I the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655403)

Damn right. I have a programming apprentice and I had to explain to him today that if you subtract a negative number from another number, it's the same as adding the absolute value. Just what are they teaching them these days??

Really? (1)

acil (916155) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654493)

I implement Wireless networks for Cisco inside their offices. All of the issues raised in the article are issues that can be easily addressed. The issues these businesses face are due to lack of planning, experience, or the appropriate hardware. The wireless networks I implement are available everywhere from the elevator to the bathroom, support VPN users, corporate users, anonymous users, and it does all this while being extremely secure. This isn't a matter of the technology lacking, its a matter of knowing how to implement it properly.

A well designed system doesn't have problems (2, Informative)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654831)

I have designed many 2.4 gig WiFi systems that have none of these issues. First off, you have to consider the design of the area you want to use WiFi in. Lots of steel studs or concrete walls mean more access points (though I don't use AP's because routers are cheaper and can be used as APs). Generally speaking, you need an AP for every four 10x20 rooms and for every ten computers. Trying to use less AP's or more computers will create an overloaded system. Next, the quality of the AP's is paramount. As a minimum, I generally use Linksys or Buffalo equipment. Next, channel selection is important. Channels 1,6 and 11 do not overlap at all, and my experience is that channel 1 is lightly used. Channels 1.4.8 and 11 barely overlap, and can be used in bigger networks. I like to use channels 4 and 8 when I'm in an area where 1,6, and 11 are heavily used. If you use the same SSID for each AP, there will be almost seamless roaming between APs. I never use wireless repeaters-all AP's are wired back to the router. Yes it's more work, but the results are so much better! Finally, I use third party firmware on all routers, because I find it more stable then the firmware provided by the manufacturers. It also has the capability to be used for a field survey, which is useful to find any new wireless gear that's been installed lately.

Of course, it goes without saying that encryption should always be used, the tighter the better!

You noticed!!! (1)

azazrael (809236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655241)

Wifi is necessary in some cases - casual/traveling/mobile (like cameras)

Wire works everytime -

Wifi was sold to admin as cheaper than wiring the building the little details like
reliability and security were not covered just 'we can get you up quickly'

Some experiences.... (2, Interesting)

jonoton (804262) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655499)

I'm in the middle of the 3rd generation of our wireless network.

First generation was "Thick" access points individually managed.

Second generation was the first generation of "Thin" access points.

Third generation is "Thin" access points using CAP-WAP tunneling to a central management platform.

For the First & Second generations we had consultants in to do surveys and radio measurements, we spent days roaming the site with radio gear and plans working out the best locations for the AP.

That turned out the be as much use as a chocolate teapot.

With the third generation (which is a forklift upgrade for the 1st & 2nd generation) we've gone with the scientific approach of "suck it and see". We ordered about 10% more access points than we had existing and when we've finished the install we'll go back round with our survey gear and fill in the dead spots.

Things I've learned from trying to get this right:-

Architects hate you
They want the APs to be hidden, this is bad m'kay. Our second generation install we let the architects dictate where the APs could go. We've landed up with them 30' above the floor above a false ceiling. To maintain these we now have to close the building and get a cherry picker (which we're not allowed to use - it has to be a member of the facilities team)
Outdoor coverage is a bitch.
Lightning arresters, which are mandatory, cause significant loss as does "low loss" cable. Omni direction antennae are prety useless as generally you've got to mount them near a wall which nukes your signal. Directional ones are much better, but require more access points to get the same coverage.
Things you wouldn't expect to impact the signal can bite you in the arse.
UV filter glass (40db loss!), magnetic whiteboards, glass wall partitions. Out door it's even worse - forget it if you've got trees out there, oh and fog - fog kills the signal pretty dead.
Never try to survey a building that's not there.
This may seem obvious, but a lot of our installation had to be done from plans, so we had to estimate signal propagation - this doesn't work. Especially when the users of the building decided that what they really want is a nice metal mesh put into the walls, that really helps the signal.
On the plus side - the 3rd generation ap & management station are making our life much easier. We can actually see where clients are now, and the APs know about each other and manage their radio intelligently (and it seems to work!)
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