Eager to catch the wave of 802.11n wireless network upgrades and rollouts presumably on the way, wireless LAN tools vendors are tuning up their products and platforms with an eye toward making high-end wireless planning technologies such as spectrum analysis available to a wider range of customers.
To this end, AirDefense recently added SA (spectrum analysis) capabilities to its AirDefense Enterprise 7.3 solution, and MetaGeek significantly improved its low-cost, laptop-based spectrum analyzer Chanalyzer.
SA helps administrators find non-Wi-Fi sources of interference in the unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectra.
Many non-Wi-Fi devices, such as cordless phones and Bluetooth devices, operate in those frequencies, often using different modulation schemes. Too many transmitters in the same airspace can lead to interference, resulting in service interruptions or signal degradation for the Wi-Fi network.
Spectrum analyzers provide the insight into the physical layer of wireless networking needed to help identify and eradicate those sources of interference.
During my tests of the two wireless analysis tools, I was impressed to see the steps that AirDefense and MetaGeek have taken to put their utilities within reach of a wider array of organizations.
I recommend that administrators evaluate these offerings as they prepare to take on 802.11n.