Troubleshooting problems with a WiFi network

There are occasions when a WiFi network ceases to meet the needs of the users.  On many of those occasions, the first instinct of the venue owner is to blame the installer of the network.  Whilst this may be accurate, it is not always the case.

The following steps are worth considering:

  • Document the issues
  • Review prior documentation
  • Consider recent changes

Document the issues

It may sound obvious, but in order to accurately troubleshoot the problem, it is necessary to document what is happening.  Determine whether the issue occurs:

  • In certain locations
  • At certain times of day
  • With certain devices
  • Consistently or intermittently

Review prior documentation

Again this may seem obvious but when your network was installed, there should have been a full site survey.  This should cover not only the signal strength but also the signal to noise ratio (SNR).  Is the issue occurring in an area which has only been marginal or was it once acceptable?

Consider recent changes

If the network was once working then it is highly likely that something has changed which has caused the issue to arise now.  Think about any changes which have been implemented in the previous few weeks even if they do not immediately appear to be linked.

If these steps do not enable you to directly identify what has caused the issue to arise then contact your network installer or another expert and provide them with this information.  They should then be able to troubleshoot a problem more rapidly.  For interest, below is a list of some of the more unusual causes of problems within a WiFi network.

Some examples of unusual problems identified previously

  • Intermittent problem towards the front of the hotel – a particular location within the hotel had poor internet connectivity for 5 minutes at the top of each hour (i.e. 10:00, 11:00, noon, 1:00, etc.)  but was fine outside of that time.  This was eventually diagnosed as being the airport shuttle bus which left at five past each hour and arrived five minutes earlier.  It had WiFi on-board which interfered with the WiFi in rooms at the front of the hotel
  • Significant problems in rooms at the front of the hotel on floors 2 – 4 despite the AP installation being broadly similar from floor to floor – this was eventually found to be caused by a recently fitted traffic recognition camera which caused interference with the WiFi in rooms within 5 metres of the camera
  • Previously strong signal becoming poor across a large proportion of the whole hotel
    • Example 1 – this was caused by new TVs which contained APs being installed in the guest bedrooms with the result that there was significant interference
    • Example 2 – this was caused by the installation of a new 3G / 4G antenna being installed on a the roof of a nearby building resulting in significant interference for the upper rooms – it is worth acknowledging that some newer APs are able to exclude interference from such antenna
  • There have also been problems reported as a result of interference from:
    • Wireless enabled minibars
    • IR detectors
    • Movement detectors
    • Cordless phones
    • Microwaves
    • Wireless door locks
    • Wireless surround sound speakers

What next?

If you have worked through the issues above and are still unsure as to why your WiFi network is not working as well as you would like then please contact Veridicum.