802.11n Deployment Considerations – Troubleshooting & Analysis Tools

This is the second in a series of 802.11n Deployment Considerations to include cabling, power, system architecture, etc. The focus of this particular post is to discuss the deployment considerations related to troubleshooting and analysis tools when deploying 802.11n wireless LANs.  

Packet Analysis 

One of the main troubleshooting & analysis tools for WLAN engineers is a wireless packet capture program. Personally, I use both OmniPeek Professional as well as the AirPcap device from CACE Technologies.  With wireless packet capture programs, it is important for you to ensure both the wireless NIC you are using and the software support 802.11n functionality.  Otherwise, 802.11n features such as channel bonding, frame aggregation, and block acknowledgement might not display properly (or show up in your display at all).  AirPcap sells a specific model for 802.11n, called their AirPcap Nx.  

Spectrum Analysis 

Another important troubleshooting tool for WLAN engineers is a Spectrum Analyzer.  I use both the AirMagnet Spectrum Analyzer and the Wi-Spy Spectrum Analyzer from MetaGeek.  If you read my rant (post) regarding 2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz for 802.11n networks, hopefully you realize the increasing importance of the 5 GHz spectrum.  Therefore, I would suggest you utilize a dual band spectrum analyzer.   The only Wi-Spy product that is dual band is the Wi-Spy DBx.  

Another spectrum analyzer troubleshooting tool that I am curious to try is the AirMagnet Airmedic Product.  If anyone has used the Airmedic product, leave a comment letting me know your thoughts!  

Wireless IDS/IPS 

While most people think of wireless intrustion detection & intrusion detection as a security tool, they can also be used monitor and preserve the overall well being of the WLAN.   Therefore, it makes sense to deploy 802.11n capable sensors for security, troubleshooting, & analysis.  

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1 comment so far

  1. Keith Parsons on

    I agree with your assessment. The AirMagnet tools for decoding and explaining the 802.11n features are very valuable. Not just for analysis, but they make a great learning aid to help some understand many of the different options and their effects on throughput.

    Spend an hour or so playing with the new tools and calculators and you’ll have a much better understanding of the ‘true’ expectations when migrating to an 802.11n network. (It’s not the same as the marketing folks would have you believe)


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