Apple In The 802.11 Enterprise by Jim Portaro

In this Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) world, mobile users are bringing their own or are required to use their wireless Apple iPhones and iPads in hospitals or other campus facilities. The majority of research also shows that users are online with multiple devices. IT network teams are architecting a wireless network environment allowing many advanced services like voice, tracking and shared resources while delivering high density designs for performance. These consumer devices present many challenges in regard to coverage, performance, roaming, quality of service (quality of experience), all this while ensuring legacy clients have required priority bandwidth.

RF-Works recently built a detailed document for our customer’s network and wireless network administrators best practices for iOS devices, configuration settings and implementation considerations on an 802.11 WLAN and further breakout for Cisco. Document highlights describe how to get all wireless options in place for the best possible service for “iDevices” given all the different factors that should be considered.

Apple is at the forefront of mobile devices in use in Clinical applications, especially considering the impact Voalte has had on reinventing Clinical communications. The iPhone5 supports the 5 GHz band and the 21 Wi-Fi channels in the North American channel set for the 5 GHz band. This gives the iPhone5 Wi-Fi dual-band support and greatly influences the adoption of the iPhone into business. The Apple iOS6 with support for 802.11k and 802.11r now supports two of the protocols that are designed to enhance roaming across Wi-Fi access points (AP).

This document has general guidance for iPhones and iPads using iOS 6, with new features such as 802.11r, secure authentication, and 802.11k.

Summary of Recommendations

  • 5 GHz is recommended for iOS devices that support dual-band.
  • Disable lower data rates if the RF design supports it.
  • Channel utilization should be below 35%.
  • All MCS values should be left enabled for 802.11n.
  • The minimum RSSI coverage area should be at -65 dBm signal level with 15% RF overlap for roaming.
  • 11n should be used in Apple deployments
  • 11n 20 MHz should be used in channel restrictive areas and 40 MHz in heavy bandwidth needs.
  • “Band Select” should be utilized to maximize connections to 5 GHz vs. 2.4 GHz.
  • “ClientLink” should be enabled to take advantage of beamforming.
  • 11k should be used for deployments utilizing RRM.
  • Apple devices should be connected to a WLAN with a QoS of “Platinum”.
  • Apple devices should have a WMM setting of “Required”.
  • Fast Transition clients should have separate WLANs for PSK and 802.1x respectively.
  • Legacy clients should be deployed on a separate SSID.