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Importance of load balancing in high-density WiFi

 

WiFi is the iconic technology of our time. It may seem cumbersome, but it’s difficult to think of another technology with greater penetration into society. Who hasn’t seen someone walk into a cafeteria and ask the WiFi key? Who hasn’t seen reviews of a hotel complaining about the quality of the wireless connection? Moreover: it is already found in the dictionaries of half the world included as a colloquial term.

However, the 802.11 standard has been with us for two decades and, although it has evolved to adapt to the new times, we must bear in mind that it was designed for a world that is not the world of today. The standard on which WiFi technology is based was conceived to replace wired networks at the end of the last century, which is why it does not take into account the vicissitudes of the average user of today. Fortunately the standard, very cleverly, leaves many network decisions unspecified that we can use to get the most out of our WiFi infrastructure.

Thanks to this, innovation companies such as Galgus can develop algorithms that automatically optimize the network in terms of the use of radio resources (power, bandwidths, channels, use of antennas, etc.) and logical (user association, traffic limits, roaming, etc.).

Specifically, in a WiFi network with several APs and several radios available, the effective distribution of users according to the load of resources is essential. It is okay to control the user association to ensure that resources are allocated in a sustainable way (what Galgus calls Prebalancing), but we must be aware that an AP or a radio with few very demanding users (videostreaming, downloading files, etc.) will suffer much more than another with more users less demanding (email, chat, etc.).

That is why all Galgus products include, at the heart of their embedded software, an adaptive Load Balancing (LB) algorithm that moves users between available APs and radios in real-time, depending on their load. Besides, it does it anticipating the impact that this transition is going to have on the APs and target radios since it would not make sense to make a movement that would worsen the network.

To do this, Galgus APs monitor both their congestion indicators and those of their neighboring APs, without the need for a central controller or a cloud decision-making system. What’s more, they don’t even require Internet access for the network to be dynamically optimized. Galgus intelligent APs are aware of the transition possibilities of their clients, and that is why when they consider that moving a device to other resources is going to have a positive impact on the network, they do not hesitate to do so.

Of course, all this must be done in a good signal quality situation (several APs available to serve the devices). If signal quality degrades for some users, other network optimization algorithms such as Smart Roaming (SR) or Automatic Power Control (APC) would come into play. At the end of the day, an intelligent network should not neglect any user, as we also know that the weakest user can have a very negative impact on the network if it is not given a solution in time. But that would be material for another day.