80211 Performance Tuning

Until now, wireless network administrators have probably received a bit of a free ride. Wireless is new and cool, and people do not know what sort of service they should expect. Users are happy that it works at all, and it is both easy and correct to tell them that they should not expect the same performance they would see on a 100BaseT Ethernet. Most wireless installations do not have large user communities and therefore do not have dozens or hundreds of stations trying to associate with a small number of access points. Furthermore, most wireless networks are logically subordinate to existing wired networks. 802.11 was designed to complement existing LANs, not replace them. When the wired LAN is the primary network, people can still get the job done without the wireless network, and it is seen as less critical. Most likely, your biggest problems are positioning your access points so you have coverage everywhere you want it, installing drivers, and keeping your WEP keys up to date.

However, networks have a way of growing, and users have a way of becoming more demanding. Your network's performance "out of the box" is probably fairly poor, even if no one but you notices. Changing the physical environment (by experimenting with access point placement, external antennas, etc.) may alleviate some problems, but others may best be resolved by tuning administrative parameters. This chapter discusses some of the administrative parameters that can tuned to improve the behavior of your wireless network.

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