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Understanding the difference between Wi-Fi signal strength and Wi-Fi speed

Michael Lok, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Ruckus Wireless | Aug. 31, 2015
The relationship between Wi-Fi signal strength and the speed at which data can be transferred over that signal is something that is essential to understand when it comes to Wi-Fi performance.

Rate adaptation is the function that determines how and when to dynamically change to a new data rate. When it's tuned properly, a good adaptation algorithm finds the right data rate that delivers peak AP output in current RF conditions — unstable as they are. Though often ignored, rate adaptation is a critical component to any high performance system.

Wi-Fi engineers have been led to believe, and — for better or worse — site survey software validates the belief, that data rates can be reliably predicted based on a metric like RSSI or SNR. And some product manufacturers use simple metrics like these to determine the right rate.

Without the right algorithm, the optimal rate for any client at any given moment in time is a crapshoot. And when you're guessing, the safest guess is to err on the side of reliability, which sacrifices throughput and capacity and causes other unwanted problems.

Stable client connections are important in an unstable RF environment. To ensure that you have strong and reliable Wi-Fi connection, it's vital that you choose a vendor that leverages statistically optimised rate selection algorithms, which jointly adapt both the data rate and antenna pattern together to maximise reliability and throughput.


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