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Customer Survey Results: How RF Interference Impacts the Wireless Network

April 20, 2010 - 2 Comments

Let’s talk about air quality. And I don’t mean smog. How clean is your Wi-Fi network from Radio Frequency (RF) interference?

Over 600 Cisco customers recently participated in our on-line survey about RF interference and Wi-Fi network usage. Industry representation ran the gamut from agriculture, to education, to arts, to manufacturing, to retail, to healthcare, and many others. Two of the most important findings were:

  • 78% of companies now consider all or part of their wireless network to be mission critical.
  • 54% of companies indicated that RF interference causes wireless network performance problems (and another 18% don’t know if RF interference is impacting their Wi-Fi network).

The first finding speaks to the growing pervasiveness of wireless in the workplace to support mobile access to business-critical data and applications from anywhere at any time.

The second finding demonstrates that RF interference is an important problem impacting wireless network performance. When combined with the first finding, it’s clear that maintaining robust wireless network performance while also minimizing RF interference is vital for today’s organizations.

When our customers had the opportunity to share details about their RF interference problems, many indicated that they aren’t sure what to do about RF interference. Some said that they are having trouble defining the source and location of interference — especially since there is a growing list of Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi devices that can cause interference. Others said that they could find the RF interference source, but didn’t have the tools or IT resources to mitigate the interference.

For example, one healthcare customer said:

“RF interference is always a potential player whenever there is a wireless issue in a particular area. We have two scenarios where we know we have interference but cannot determine the source.”

And an education customer provided this feedback:

“We really need a better tool to give us RF interference information, so I will know the extent of RF interference in our network. RF interference could be a very minor problem or a significant problem, I just don’t know for sure.”

The future of mission critical wireless networks depends in part on the ability of organizations to manage RF interference in sophisticated ways that reveal and target the root of the problem. Stay tuned as we explore this topic in more depth in future blogs.

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  1. I would be very interested in finding some details about the types of devices that cause interference, and the relative impact of each device. I know my company has issues, but I don’t know the magnitude of the issues.RegardsPat

  2. In our RF interference audit and remediation practice, we see many cases of interference with wireless networks and RF sensitive processes. The sources are often unknown and unsuspected by the users, even off campus””. Some interference sources are even RF health hazards. A facility RF audit is a wise risk management move for most enterprises today.”