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Sanity Check on my Unreliable WiFi: Do I Need More Access Points?

New Contributor II
TLDR: ZD1200 with 9 r710 APs covering 21K sq ft macOS-dominant biz, constant connection issues. Would more access points actually fix the problem?

Long form: I took over an existing enterprise network, consisting of an Untangle, 1Gb switches of various makes and models, and Ruckus for the wireless. The Ruckus consists of a ZoneDirector 1200 and 9 r710 Access Points, on a dedicated switch connect to the Untangle by 1Gb ethernet. The office is a rectangular 21,000 square foot space in a dense mixed-use urban area, with over 100 different wifi networks in range (I'm counting 2.4ghz and 5ghz separately here). We are a macOS-only shop with an average 100-150 devices on our primary wifi, and the same on our siloed guest wifi (total wireless device count rarely tops 300 devices). 

I get daily complaints about wireless not working. The most common issues are failing to connect after waking a laptop from sleep, AirPlay not working, and wifi appearing as connected but not transferring data. None of these are reliably fixed by toggling the antenna or restarting devices. 

Here are some of the more significant changes I've made in an attempt to reduce connection issues:
  • Reduced channelization from 80MHz to 40MHz
  • Reduced channelization from 40MHz to 20MHz
  • Capped the maximum devices on any AP to 50
  • Physically moved a couple of the APs to improve coverage
  • Disabled the 2.4GHz spectrum on all APs except one for specific devices (did it by disabling WLAN service on the 802.11b/g/n radio)
  • Modified every Mac's default connection preference to be the AP with the strongest signal, not the last AP accessed (which is the default)
  • I added a script to the most afflicted computers, which keeps the antenna turned off for 5 seconds after waking from sleep
  • Note: TX Power is configured to Auto, but all radios always run at Full power anyway
There are some other specific tweaks done for increasing compatibility with Apple products, but I've been working on this for over a year and I can't recall every detail. And as it's been over a year, the boss had demanded a permanent fix regardless of cost. That opens up my options in terms of adding access points or even switching to a different vendor. 

BUT: I have enough hardware on paper to completely control my airspace, and I don't think more access points will "solve" anything. If I succeed in fixing my network just by overpowering my neighbors, they'll be forced to do the same. I do not want a wifi arms race. 

Any suggestions?


Esteemed Contributor II
You don't want to compete around the edges, just provide good service to your clients. 
What version of code on your ZD?  We just posted our first 10.2.1 maintenance release.On your Monitor/Access Points page, how many clients do you see (what range)?There might be client sleep mode wake issues, so we always recommend latest client drivers/OS too.

ZoneDirector is currently build 35
As of right now, there are a total of 169 clients on the two wlans

Contributor III
I feel like you could use IPERF3 here to better understand your Space, and how 'Sticky' your clients are before roaming to 'better' neighbor APs. I'm excited for you- this looks like a real challenge!
Are your clients all of a single type? I feel my best success come from understanding my WORST performing clients (I'm looking at you Apple iOS devices!) then seeking to 'Tune' my radios.
Best of Luck!

I haven't tried IPERF3. I've relied largely on Homedale to understand radio traffic and congestion. It has been quite a challenge, but it's been fun

All the laptops are Macs, except for some on-location employees from a client that use Windows 10 (I don't have any issues with them). They range in version as far back as 2012 models running El Capitan and newer. I'm working on updating everyone to Mojave. We're pretty evenly split between Android and iOS for phones.