Published: Sep 21, 2014
Source: Saudi Gazette

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Saudi firms need strong Wi-Fi foundation

Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of our lives. With smartphone penetration exceeding 60 percent, Saudi Arabia ranks high in global reports of smart device usage. According to a recent Aruba study, #GenMobile - an emerging population marked by their preference for all things mobile—would give up coffee and eating out before their mobile devices. In Saudi, 82 percent of respondents surveyed by Aruba own three or more connected devices and they also display the second highest ownership of tablets (31 percent).

Our addiction to smartphones and tablets extends to the workplace. Tucked away in bags and pockets, these devices are the first to connect to company Wi-Fi networks when employees and guests walk on site. Unlike desktop and even laptop computers, we don’t have to be stationary to use work applications on our smartphones and tablets. 

Instead of a desk phone, #GenMobile communicates using apps such as Microsoft Lync, FaceTime, Hangouts, WebEx and GoToMeeting, which establish peer-to-peer voice and video flows. And as soon as the Wi-Fi network is in range, the Photos app on almost every iPhone automatically synchronizes to iCloud. Then there‘s the YouTube effect—streams of video content have become a core part of everyone’s Internet experience on all devices.

Collaboration with mobile apps requires a WLAN smart enough to know Lync from YouTube—and treat that traffic accordingly. With a little upfront planning and some smart technology, IT can dramatically improve the quality of users’ mobile app experience on workplace Wi-Fi networks.

Nawar Hasan, Technical Manager for Middle East and Turkey at Aruba Networks lists some essential Wi-Fi services, which provide a smartphone and tablet experience that #GenMobile can trust:

Push Wi-Fi everywhere: Wi-Fi coverage must extend pervasively to all parts of a campus, with uniformly good signal levels. RF management techniques should be employed to maximize coverage and network capacity, while avoiding interference. To achieve 100 percent coverage in all areas, the WLAN should be designed with a minimum RF signal (RSSI) level of -67 dBm, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 25 dB and co-channel separation of 20 dB. 

Wi-Fi coverage must be able to handle multiple devices per user and extend to hallways, corners, elevators and even outdoors. Products supporting the 802.11ac gigabit Wi-Fi network standard are now available for indoor and outdoor installation at a price point close to 802.11n. 802.11ac access points (APs) turbocharge mobile apps by expanding the available bandwidth and the number of devices that an individual AP can serve simultaneously. 802.11ac provides four to six times higher speeds than 802.11n, allowing devices to transmit faster and free up the shared channel for someone else to use. 802.11ac access points (APs) are ideal for high-density areas; IT can redirect older 802.11n APs to lower density areas to ensure complete coverage. 

Deliver a reliable unified communication experience: Voice and video traffic must have priority handling to ensure that collaboration apps such as Skype, Lync and Hangouts operate reliably. In order to prioritize delay-sensitive unified communication traffic on the Wi-Fi network, IT needs to know it’s there. Integrating the Wi-Fi network with unified communication servers like Microsoft Lync lets IT accurately fingerprint voice and video sessions and gain the visibility they need to prioritize delay-sensitive unified communication traffic that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. With this integration, unified communication sessions to and from personal devices can now be routed inside the firewall, thereby eliminating the latency of a VPN connection. Wireless screen mirroring: Smartphones and tablets support wireless screen-sharing protocols such as Apple AirPlay or DLNA technology, which require special handling on workplace Wi-Fi networks.Screen-sharing must be bridged across network segments because personal and guest devices are often on different VLANs than networkconnected screens, projectors and media devices like Apple TV or Chromecast. IT must also be able to limit wireless screen-sharing based on a user’s role. For example, in a classroom, this will prevent students from taking over a teacher’s screen.

Wi-Fi networks need special provisions to support Apple AirPrint technology that allows iPhone and iPad users to locate and send print jobs to networked printers, which are often wired and on a separate VLAN than user devices. Much like the AirPlay technology, AirPrint traffic has to be bridged across network segments. In addition to bridging print traffic, the Wi-Fi network should also leverage user location to ensure users are shown only the closest printer

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