Broadband Communities

JUL 2016

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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84 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | JULY 2016 TECHNOLOGY Wi-Fi in Student Housing For student housing residents, ubiquitous Wi-Fi access is an essential part of life. Student housing owners and operators must provide reliable, worry-free service – and that means getting coverage, density and management right. By Andrew Marshall / Campus Technologies Inc. S tudent housing owners and operators don't often get directly involved with Wi-Fi delivery; understandably, most leave that issue to their technology providers. However, understanding the key components of Wi-Fi deployment success can help owners and operators make informed choices when they select partners to install, upgrade or operate student housing Wi-Fi systems. e key factors in student housing Wi-Fi success are • coverage (how much usable wireless signal is available and where) • density (how many resident devices are served by a single wireless access point, or AP) • manageability (making sure the Wi-Fi system acts as a single, coordinated system throughout the property, not a sea of unmanaged Wi-Fi islands). COVERAGE e overall coverage objective for student housing Wi-Fi systems is to have a usable Wi-Fi signal anywhere on the property that residents will go. at seems self-evident, but the key word is "usable." Both a wireless AP and any client device that uses it, such as a laptop, tablet or phone, contain a radio transmitter and a radio receiver. To achieve a two-way internet connection, an AP must transmit a wireless signal that a client receives, and correspondingly the client must transmit a signal that the AP receives. e strength of the radio signal and how well the other end can receive it directly corresponds to how fast the connection is and what throughput can be achieved – and, accordingly, how happy the resident will be. So, the strength of the wireless Wi-Fi signal determines how good the Wi-Fi connection is, right? Unfortunately not. e quality of a Wi-Fi connection depends on two factors: the signal strength and the noise or interference level. Together, the two factors determine the signal-to-noise ratio, or SNR. WHAT IS NOISE? Noise is interference. ink of it like this: If you're standing on the main concourse of a railroad station, talking to somebody 10 feet away, it is easy to hear that person at 3 a.m., when everything is quiet. At 8 a.m., during rush hour, the noise from the other passengers, announcements and trains make it difficult to hear your conversation partner. e Wi-Fi signal level minus the noise level is the amount of signal you can actually use to transport information, and this usable signal is referred to as the SNR. (Confusingly, the SNR is not actually a ratio.) e more noise, the less usable signal. SNR is measured in decibels (dB), which is hard to visualize unless you're used to it. Consequently, manufacturers of end-user client devices such as smartphones use a bar system instead, with one bar showing a slow or weak signal and five bars a fast or strong signal. In an ideal Wi-Fi world, everyone should have four or five bars. At all costs, no area should have fewer than two bars (15dB SNR).

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