This content is part of the Essential Guide: Mapping your wireless local area network: How to make your WLAN shine
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The importance of WLAN testing: From planning to documentation

This chapter on WLAN testing covers WLAN test planning and documentation and crucial testing methods for performance, security and signal coverage.

It is important to conduct wireless LAN (WLAN) testing to ensure your system meets security and performance requirements. Since there are various factors at play when it comes to WLAN testing, careful planning and documentation of a WLAN test are as important as the testing itself.

The chapter "Testing a Wireless LAN," from the book Designing and Deploying 802.11n Wireless Networks by Jim Geier, explains the importance of WLAN testing. Geier addresses steps in planning a WLAN test, WLAN testing considerations and how to produce a WLAN test report that produces results for ongoing WLAN support.

WLAN testing considerations and planning

When planning to assess a WLAN, it is crucial to consider a variety of testing areas. These include:

  • Signal coverage testing: Ensures that signal levels are high enough to support the levels of performance users need throughout the WLAN coverage areas.
  • Performance testing: Certifies that the WLAN has the capabilities to meet users' needs when using specific applications over the WLAN.
  • In-motion testing: Helps to determine whether the WLAN allows users to successfully use applications while moving through different coverage areas.
  • Security vulnerability testing: Certifies the security of the network by verifying the implementation of required security mechanisms and the appropriate degrees of protection from unauthorized access.
  • Acceptance/verification testing: Offers a form of insurance to organizations hiring contractors for WLAN implementation by ensuring the overall system has sufficient signal coverage, performance, capacity and security. A formalized process, this testing also addresses installation practices, system documentation and operations and maintenance procedures.
  • Simulation testing: Provides a representation of WLAN behavior before it is actually deployed, which offers insight into the effectiveness of the network's design in terms of hardware, software and traffic activity, as well as any potential performance issues.
  • Prototype testing: Specifically assesses an unfamiliar part of a product or system of the WLAN in a lab environment before its deployment.
  • Pilot testing: Involves installing a real version of the WLAN in a limited number of facilities prior to implementing the system organization-wide. Outcomes of this testing can offer insight into realistic use and potential performance issues.

Creating a test report documenting the results of each of the completed tests is a vital component of WLAN implementation. Once these tests have been completed, a record of the assessments' background and outcomes will be helpful in understanding past changes and resolving future problems.

Read the rest of this chapter for further details on WLAN testing.

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This was last published in February 2013

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