Saturday, December 11, 2010
Last week I was performing a passive site survey of a currently deployed WLAN in several large hospital facilities in south Texas. During the course of a week and entering countless patient rooms I validated an opinion I'd had for some time.
Out of the dozens of patient rooms I entered, at least 12 or so people understood what it was that I was doing and told me they were using the guest WLAN provided by the hospital. This, in itself is unusual. The majority of the hospital staff seemed unaware that a WLAN had been deployed or was in use.
What really struck me was the number of hospital patients and guests that were using their own personal wireless hot spots. One patient told me he wasn't using the guest network because it didn't allow him to login to his Facebook page, so he was using his MiFi device instead. Another visitor told me she was using her MiFi device because the guest network didn't let her play her favorite online Tetris game. Whatever the reason, the presence of these personal wireless devices is detrimental to the overall reliability of the 2.4 GHz (802.11b/g) wireless infrastructure within the enterprise. Seemingly, any attempts to restrict usage of the guest wireless network will only lead to more and more people choosing to use their own personal wireless hot spot devices for internet connectivity.
In short, I think we've reached the point where the timeline for abandoning the 2.4 GHz wireless network for business uses in favor of moving mission-critical wireless connectivity over to the 5 GHz spectrum (802.11a) should be ramped up considerably. There are simply too many sources of interference in the 2.4 GHz frequencies on top of the rapidly expanding number of personal Wi-Fi devices all competing for the same small segment of unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum.