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How to meet the iPad demand for a scad of Wi-Fi signal strength

In July, Aerohive announced a new addition to our line-up of enterprise 802.11n wireless access points: the 3-spatial stream HiveAP 330 and HiveAP 350. Although there is a lot to like about them, today I want to dig down further into the radio card design that Devin first touched on in his post titled As Discrete as a Ninja.Aerohive HiveAP
In this post, I’ll be writing about the technology and engineering behind the radio card photos, and why I pried apart the radio cards to show off the discrete components.

One of the biggest challenges facing enterprise wireless network administrators is that every day is “Take Your iPad to Work Day.” Like most consumer-focused devices, the iPad is small, and its sleek aluminum case is an excellent signal blocker if the back of the iPad is facing your access point. Many portable Wi-Fi devices are battery-powered, and the antenna design takes a back seat to the overall styling of the device. Antenna designers make do with the space they are given, and the Wi-Fi radio is often a low-power transceiver to extend battery life as much as possible.

To cope with a flood of faintly-transmitting devices, Aerohive focused on improving the receiver sensitivity in our most recent APs. If the most common devices send at low power, the infrastructure side of the network needs to work better with the signal that we’re given. One way this is often put is “rate over range,” that is, at a given distance, what can be done to improve signal quality. Or, in technical speak, what can be done to improve the signal quality by reducing the average Error Vector Magnitude. I made several attempts at explaining error vector magnitude in written form, but what I found is that the only way I felt comfortable with the explanation was to be able to draw on a whiteboard.

Therefore, I give you Aerohive’s first video blog:

Next time, I think I’ll avoid wearing a white shirt in front of a whiteboard.

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