Q&A: Planning for High-Density Wi-Fi and Network Considerations

High-Density Wi-Fi TipsIt’s estimated that in 2023 there were 3.6 devices per person around the globe, with an average of 13.4 devices per person in the U.S alone. With the proliferation of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, high-density Wi-Fi is increasing network requirements for properties. This type of Wi-Fi offers the ability to have more and more devices connect to individual access points (APs). This allows for the ability to either reduce the number of APs in an area or to better handle large crowds without needing to increase the number of APs and decrease the power. 

Large venues with many people in a compact area like sporting events, conferences and any other venue with high device usage will do well to utilize high-density Wi-Fi. Nomadix AP 6NA ceiling mount is a high-density AP that allows many devices to connect to the Wi-Fi network. 

To help with network infrastructure planning and understanding requirements, the rest of this post outlines some of the common questions we receive with customers working on these types of networks. 

What is high-density Wi-Fi?

It is the ability for a single AP to connect many different devices simultaneously, and the ability for the network to support the needs of those devices.

What places or situations are considered to be high-density?

Large conference spaces in hotels, as well as casinos, are standard high-density hospitality locations. For MDU applications, it would be anywhere on the property that many people might congregate, for example, a game or theater room that is available to the residents. Any kind of sports stadium or speedway would also be a good place for high-density Wi-Fi. College campuses are also a common use case, where 400+ students may participate in one lecture hall.

How do you manage Wi-Fi network demand when it’s significantly higher due to the large number of users and potential interference from numerous devices?

The control and support of the devices is handled by the APs and the software in the controllers managing them. The ability to manage multiple devices is based on the airtime protocols that are utilized for the different versions of Wi-Fi technology based around the ability to handle the wireless traffic.

Depending on the network design and the needs for device support for a given area, it is often better to use a high-density AP instead of just adding more basic APs to a location. Both solutions can solve the problem, but with increased APs, the signal power would need to be reduced across all the APs. Alternatively, fewer high-density APs could be used with a higher power output to support the devices that need to connect. 

How does bandwidth management improve Wi-Fi in High Density Areas?

Bandwidth management uses the strategic allocation of network resources to guarantee optimal performance for all users. And in this scenario, since fewer high-density APs are used, it allows for higher power and supports the higher frequency antenna that can provide the higher bandwidth and better performance. 

How often do you need to upgrade or maintain the network?

Most networks that are properly designed for future proofing should last quite a few years. With the updates to different technologies and capabilities that continue to come out, it depends on what technology the current network supports and how many iterations have happened since it was installed. In many cases, a new network that installs the current technology at the time should be able to last at least 5 years without the need for a refresh. 

If more than those 5 years have passed or if it was installed with technology that was already outdated, then there may be problems with adding newer devices and being able to utilize all their features. Devices are backwards compatible, but that only means they will work – it doesn’t mean they will work to their full potential.

How do you keep a high-density network secure?

Wi-Fi networks are only as secure as their latest technology update and the implementation of that technology. High density networks do not pose additional security threats because they support the same levels of encryption and security as any other Wi-Fi Network using the same technology.

Any other tips for managing or supporting high-density wi-fi?

When looking to install and manage a high-density Wi-Fi network, it is important to recognize the limitations and benefits of the equipment used. The Nomadix AP 6NA is available for both a local controller or a cloud controller to manage the high-density needs of the network. The network design does need to take into account growth of devices that will connect to it over the designed lifetime of that network, so knowing the number of  supported devices is required to plan out the network properly. 

For any questions in your network planning, don’t hesitate to contact us about your high-density Wi-Fi needs. 

Jeremy Cook is the product manager for the Nomadix gateways. He has worked with Nomadix for 25 years, joining the organization in quality assurance and moving through systems and pre-sales engineering and to his current role in Product Management.