Tech Blog: How many users?
OK, time for a checklist (everyone loves a checklist!)
You want WiFi in your location? Check
You know the maximum capacity within your venue? Check
So you plan your WiFi capacity to = maximum venue capacity, correct?
Yes… but you are likely to over spec and over spend; the reality is a lot more subtly nuanced than this. First you have to consider what type of location you have and what type of people you have within it, below I’ve outlined from highest to lowest user % across a range of locations:
Office Space 90- 100%
Conference 85- 95%
“Sit down leisure” i.e restaurant 25-40%
“Active” Leisure i.e. stadium, venue, museum 15-30%
Obviously these figures are going to vary based on a number of factors including demographic of users, average dwell time, proactive digital engagement etc. The other factor to consider is the difference between concurrent users and associated users. The figures above are based on associated users i.e. devices that have authenticated to the WiFi network. Concurrent users would be defined as users who are actively passing traffic over the network i.e. streaming video, downloading content etc. Again this will be impacted massively by the type of environment you are providing WiFi in and what's happening; in a conference centre for example during breaks you would expect a flurry of WiFi activity as visitors download content and access web based resources, yet during seminars & talks (at least from a presenters point of view, you’d hope!) that usage would be reduced to just background email refresh.
Most enterprise grade WiFi solutions will present a huge number for concurrent users per radio, and i’m sure all of these have been tested and validated… in lab conditions. In the real world a plethora of factors impact this number, which reinforces the need for an accurate and detailed site survey prior to deployment. The key questions to ask when planning for capacity is what, where and who;
What will users be doing on the network and what is the per device bandwidth needed at a minimum to enable them to do this?
Where will users be using the network? In a conference centre for example you would assume most users will be using the network in the conference rooms and less in the corridors around the centre
Who will be using the network? This is where separation of networks becomes very important; using the conference centre example you would want to ensure that the presenters get the maximum possible bandwidth, with visitors having connection that is limited. Or in a restaurant with at-table ordering, waiting staff devices would need to be prioritised with guest access of secondary importance.
Ultimately the simple question of “how many users?” is linked with a far larger piece of WiFi design and technology selection. It is therefore vital to ensure that the WiFi partner you select has the experience to select a suitable solution and the engagement and involvement to design it accurately. In short your WiFi partner should be as interested in your business and location as you are!
Haptic Networks have over a decade’s experience in network design, site survey and network/WiFi deployment, we’d be happy to share some knowledge and best practise with you. If you'd like to know more about our WiFi partner of choice Ruckus Wireless - click here to visit our dedicated microsite