Wireless networks have become an integral part of our daily lives, enabling us to connect to the internet from anywhere, anytime. Being able to have internet access throughout your home or office is crucial and access points allow users to do this. However, the question remains: can you have too many WiFi access points? The answer is yes, and in this discussion, we’ll explore the reasons why.
Firstly, having too many access points can lead to issues with signal strength. When multiple access points are placed in close proximity, they can interfere with one another, leading to reduced signal strength and connectivity issues. This is especially true when using overlapping channels, which can create interference and slow down the network.
Secondly, channel interference can occur when access points are using the same channel, leading to a degradation of network performance. Access points that are too close together can also cause overlapping channels, which can cause interference and reduce network speeds.
Thirdly, too many access points can lead to inefficient wireless coverage, where some areas are over-serviced while others are under-serviced. This can result in poor connectivity in some parts of the building, leading to frustrated users.
What is an Access Point?
Access points (APs) are devices that create a wireless local area network (WLAN) and provide WiFi coverage to a specific area, allowing mobile devices like smartphones, laptops, and IoT devices to connect and access WiFi. While it may seem logical to add as many APs as possible to ensure strong coverage, this can actually be counterproductive.
Too Many Access Points In Close Proximity
When multiple APs are placed close together, they can interfere with each other, resulting in co-channel interference (CCI) or adjacent channel interference (ACI). CCI happens when multiple APs use the same channel, leading to delayed network responses. To resolve this issue the channels need to be different on each AP. ACI occurs when APs are on different channels adjacent to each other, resulting in degraded performance. To avoid ACI, avoid setting adjacent APs on adjacent channels.
Even with 24 channels to choose from and enough APs in a given space, it may not be possible to avoid CCI or ACI completely, particularly in a multi-tenant office environment where not every AP can be controlled. Additionally, some devices are only 2.4GHz compliant, so avoiding the 2.4GHz spectrum entirely may not be feasible.
To determine the optimal number of APs for a space, it’s essential to have continuous, 100% network visibility. AP manufacturers usually provide software that allows you to proactively detect, notify, and mitigate issues 24/7, and review data from the past day, week, or month. It offers complete, real-time visibility of APs, connected devices, and data utilisation.
Adjusting the power of an AP to operate in a “micro cell” can be beneficial, particularly in environments like schools where there may be an AP in every room or a mix of APs in rooms and hallways. However, it’s still crucial to maintain network visibility to ensure sufficient AP coverage.
How to Detect Issues
One way to prevent these issues is to conduct site surveys to determine the optimal number of access points for your environment. Site surveys can help identify dead zones and areas with poor connectivity using heatmap tools, which can be addressed by adding access points in strategic locations. They can also help identify potential sources of interference and recommend channel assignments for each access point.
Additionally, it’s important to consider power levels when deploying access points. Access points that are too powerful can cause interference with other devices and networks, while access points that are too weak may not provide adequate coverage.
Having your network professionally installed by The WiFi Specialist can negate these issues as our team of expert engineers can map out the design of your WiFi, ensuring the APs are strategically placed to avoid any interference.
In conclusion, while having multiple access points can help provide wireless coverage in large areas, it’s important to consider the impact that too many access points can have on network performance. Site surveys, careful channel planning, and proper power level configurations can help optimise your wireless network for optimal performance and coverage.
Struggling with Access Point Interference? Contact our team to arrange your site survey today!