Using the Right Network Infrastructure

Whilst out for a pre-Christmas meal recently I went to pay using a debit card. After entering my PIN into the machine the waitress them took the machine (card still in the machine) over to the doorway into the restaurant. Now this is not what should happen as the systems are designed so the card should not be taken from the customer at any point, something introduced to reduce card fraud. On talking to the staff as to the reason for this it was that thee was a very poor wireless signal in the restaurant itself.

This was the second occurrence this year where an organisation was experiencing wireless network difficulties, the first was that the network was running slow, and open to both staff and clients in the building, and this, the second where the signal was too weak to be of any use.

The first of these was due to an excessive number of computers and printers all trying to access a single network at the same time. The solution to this was simple:Cisco_Channel_87px_225_RGB

  • Firstly the staff only computers and printers were removed from the wireless network and connected via a wired network wherever possible, using a Cisco switch connected to the internet router. This immediately reduced the loading on the wireless network and providing an increased speed of communication on the network.
  • Next a second wireless network was added connected again to the Cisco switch. This network was via a router that separated the direct access from the staff network, providing a degree of security from clients.

A simple design solution that when implemented increased the networking speeds and security around staff only equipment.

The second is equally as simple. The problem with the reduction in signal is the building, it is an old traditionally built building with thick internal stone walls. The wireless hub is located in the reception area, which is in the centre of the building, the restaurant area is through a single stone wall to the front of the reception, the bar area is again through a single stone wall to the rear of reception. As the wireless signal moves from air to stone, then to air again, the signal level drops significantly, in addition to the drop in the stone itself. The result is the signal is so weak it is ineffective. It is worth noting at this point that the maximum output of a wireless point is 20dBm (approximately 100mW). The organisation has tried to improve the situation in the bar area by adding Ethernet over power adaptors, which would have limited use as the equipment used by the organisation (compressors in the bar, fridges, freezers, ovens, air conditioning equipment, etc) all generate excess electrical noise and interference, making this solution poor at best. A better solution to this would be to:

  • Add a number of wireless access points in strategic location, connected to a wired network.
  • Use a quality commercial internet hub/router that can monitor and control the access points and the network itself

Using this scenario the card payment system will also allow roaming from one location to another across a reliable wireless network, along with wireless network control and monitoring. Typically Draytek equipment is suitable here, for example the Vigor 2860 router and Vigor AP-900 access points.



AHB Information Technology Solutions can help improve your network efficiency and effectiveness, contact now to see how!

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