Monitoring Wi-Fi performance against a baseline of KPIs helps companies address wireless issues before they become noticeable.
Wi-Fi performance is vital to business. Whether you have employees relying on it to complete their assignments, customers who expect reliable internet service while visiting, or mission-critical devices that continuously transfer data, you need internet functioning at high levels.
Any lag or downtime can cost you, and you'll want to keep an eye on how the wireless is performing so the IT team can make necessary adjustments. Establishing wireless key performance indicators (KPIs) helps this process, creating a baseline to measure efficiency and stability.
Here's a look at six essential Wi-Fi performance KPIs that organizations should monitor consistently:
The most straightforward, high-level KPI is uptime, which measures the fundamental goal: how often Wi-Fi service is available.
This indicator isn't always rapidly applicable for every organization, given issues that may stem from internet service providers (ISPs). But if an IT team tracks that downtime is increasing in less-demanding environments—or becoming more than zero minutes in specific enterprise settings—it can signal an underlying problem with the network that you'll want to investigate and address immediately.
2) Signal strength
Another relatively simple metric to monitor is signal strength, which is measured in decibel-milliwatts and influences the wireless network's throughput and bandwidth. The better the signal strength, the faster data devices can transfer from point A to point B within the network path.
A few different elements can determine the necessary signal strength, including how many devices are on the network, the desired data transfer rates, and the purpose of the applications on the network. You'll find that some applications require a higher signal strength than others, which is why some devices might work fine in a particular area and others don't.
3) Packet loss and re-transmissions
Packet loss often signals interference or congestion on the network. A common symptom of this issue is data transferring from one device to another but not entirely reaching its destination. Monitoring packet loss is vital because it's a surrogate for the wireless network's overall health.
Remember that some packet loss is normal and expected, but the amount that can be tolerated almost always depends on the application. For example, with a general data transfer of modest size, you can likely handle packet loss of up to 3%. In contrast, packet loss of 1% can completely ruin a Zoom call or other online voice chat.
Packet re-transmissions happen when data is sent from one device but doesn't reach its destination, forcing the equipment to send it again. While the data might reach its target the second time, the process reduces overall throughput. Often, packet re-transmission problems are the result of poor signal strength or network interference.
Latency, or delay, measures the time it takes for data to transfer from one point to another within the network. This speed is measured in milliseconds, so you won't necessarily notice it unless it reaches a significant threshold. However, it's a vital KPI because it can bring other problems to light.
Notably, latency brings slow network connections to managers’ attention, allowing an IT team to identify interference, router issues, and other underlying problems that could be affecting performance.
5) Bandwidth and throughput
Bandwidth and throughput are similar because they're both a measure of traffic on a network. However, bandwidth measures the amount of data the network optimally could transfer, while throughput signifies how much data actually moves within the network over a period.
As a result, IT professionals can compare the two metrics to see if the network performs to its full potential and identify any issues that could be causing a significant discrepancy.
6) Network jitter
Consistency is essential to a well-performing Wi-Fi network, and a jittery network—where there are delays in sending packets—experiences high latency. While this isn't usually an issue when sending emails and other low-bandwidth data, jitter can noticeably hinder video performance when streaming or conducting a video chat. Network congestion, physical obstructions, and other issues may be the culprits.
If you notice inconsistent picture quality during a video meeting, network jitter could be to blame, as the Wi-Fi service isn't performing at the same level throughout the call. Wired connections are far more tolerant of network jitter, so you'll generally notice this problem when connected wirelessly.
How to keep track of these KPIs—and many more—effectively
Since humans can't detect and identify many of these wireless issues as they happen, technology is the only way to establish a baseline and continuously monitor a network efficiently. Fortunately, 7SIGNAL® has solutions that help keep Wi-Fi performing at optimal levels.
Our Sapphire Eye® platform provides a complete picture of your onsite network, allowing the IT team to understand precisely what connected devices and the network are experiencing so they can address issues in real-time. The Mobile Eye® is installed on individual devices and provides visibility into what users and devices experience on a range of diverse networks, making it especially valuable in the new remote-work environment. Our solutions allow for continuous monitoring and testing against these KPIs and many more, offering enterprise-wide visibility and control.
Contact us for more information or to inquire about a free trial.
7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise wireless experience monitoring. 7SIGNAL provides a cloud-based platform that continuously monitors wireless networks and identifies elusive performance issues impacting application performance and digital experience. By taking the “outside-in” approach to monitoring, 7SIGNAL has visibility into the edge of any enterprise or home Wi-Fi network where complex device interaction exists, and user experience matters most. The platform maximizes employee productivity, operational efficiency, and network ROI. Sapphire Eye® and Mobile Eye® are designed for and deployed at the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, healthcare systems, and government agencies. Learn more at www.7signal.com.