Marty McFly Is Not Impressed

A long, long decade ago, a few major metropolitan areas deployed large-scale WiFi services to their citizens. Some successfully and some … not so successfully. Even the ventures that were categorized as “successful” fell short on two fronts.

  • The first: Consumer education. When folks run into connectivity issues, they look to their bars, dots, or other signal strength indicators but, unfortunately, those little bars don’t always paint a clear picture.
  • The second: Technological limitations. Hardware vendors, system integrators, and buyers alike had to grapple with a myriad of issues when it came to delivering a signal. This was in addition to inadequate system planning and gross over-estimation of performance and user capacities.

You Keep Using That Word

What if we told you, much like Inigo Montoya told Vizzini, that those signal bars do not mean what you think they mean? You would think the bars mean you have signal and the more bars you have, the stronger the signal, right?

Well, the bars are a simplified, pictorial way to convey a concept that has a vast technical underpinning of complexity. When you see full bars, you may reasonably expect connectivity. In reality, the bars are used to illustrate signal strength – a strength that only measures the received signal. So the full signal bars don’t relate to your device’s ability to communicate back to the signal’s point of origin. The device can “see” the WiFi access point (AP), but that doesn’t mean the device can talk back.

So the next time you hear someone say, “I have full bars, but I’m not getting service – something must be wrong with the WiFi,” you’ll know better. You know it’s a little more nuanced than that and can explain that the WiFi radio in their device is designed to work at distances of about 150 feet Line of Sight (LOS) with no interference from other users, devices, or obstacles. Sure you may get a quizzical, “Huh?” or a soft drink dumped over your head, but won’t it have been worth it in the end?

The Best Laid Plans

Next up: system planning and capacity. Many citywide WiFi deployments, shockingly, used hardware and systems intended only for residential use, where the number of users at any given time would not exceed ten or twelve. It may come as no surprise then that networks quickly became oversaturated – and that’s even with the limited number of WiFi-enabled devices that were present in the early 2000s. In those early citywide deployments where there were hundreds, if not thousands, of users, performance measurably suffered. Today, with the high demand for real-time content, active users could easily bring networks down with the bandwidth they require.

World-Class, City-Centric WiFi

What’s the solution? Better built WiFi. That’s WiFi designed to ensure that the total available capacity is consistent from the backend to the user. That means content delivery isn’t hampered by slow data streams and networks aren’t overwhelmed by thousands of users. Our next generation WiFi alleviates the issues of today’s oversaturated WiFi networks and is upgradeable to new technologies as they develop and evolve – because we want to make Marty proud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.