Words: Karl Meyer, GÉANT
WiFi and eduroam in particular is the most popular network access method for students, researchers and staff. Outside the eduroam community, pretty much every meeting or visit starts with “Hi, great to see you, what’s the WiFi password?”
However, poor WiFi performance is a very common complaint. Poor connections, poor download performance, frequent dropping out are the most frustrating issues we have all faced with WiFi. However, measuring WiFi Performance is difficult for IT teams. It uses a shared medium in complex environments across a range of hardware and software. Lecture theatres can show great performance when installed but vastly different performance when filled with students. This is compounded by the growth in multiple devices. We now have laptops, phones, tablets and more – so a 200-seat lecture theatre can often have 400 or 500 WiFi devices all competing for access.
Existing vendor-based solutions usually focus on measures such as signal strength and the operation of their equipment. They are mostly proprietary, focusing on their products, not users. The access point may register 200 connections but if those connections have negligible capacity, the users might as well be disconnected.
This is why WiFiMon was created. It offers a user-focused monitoring service which is vendor independent, open-source and 100% transparent to the users. It is designed to have a low network overhead, while capturing the users’ perception of network quality and provides metrics such as throughput, latency, and signal strength.
WiFiMon uses custom HTML code on a website managed by the institution, for example the mail services, Moodle etc. As users connect to this site, WiFiMon measures the end-to-end performance, and reports to the WiFiMon Test Servers to provide tracking and analysis.
For high impact areas where regular tracking is required then dedicated probes based on small-form devices can be implemented to provide baseline performance.
WiFiMon can be used by any research and education institution, with each installation controlled by the institution, and with zero data sharing. WiFiMon is perfect for large-scale campus implementations and is 100% compatible with eduroam services.
Learn more at www.geant.org/wifimon
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