Take a number, we’ll be right with you: Wi-Fi connections and capacity

Wi-Fi connects the world, one device at a time. Literally. One. Device. At. A. Time. Wi-Fi is a half-duplex technology. This means only one device gets to transmit. All other devices sharing that channel have to wait their turn to make wi-fi connections. Yet we talk about high capacity and how many devices an AP can support.  What does that mean if the answer is always one?

Wi-Fi Connections

When more than one device is connected to an AP, they must share the air. All other things being equal, the devices and the AP (it counts as a device too!) will take turns transmitting. You could easily have 10, 50, 100, or more devices connected to an AP. But each still has to wait for its turn to talk.

If you want to sound like a Wi-Fi pro, you’ll need to understand a few things about capacity: how many Wi-Fi connections an AP can keep track of, how devices are trying to talk simultaneously, and how fast each can talk.

You might have 100 devices connected to an AP, but if only 10 need to transmit at a given time, you don’t have to wait long for your turn. The other 90 devices stay connected and hang out until they have something to say.

Now, imagine you’ve got 500 devices connected and 250 want to talk simultaneously. That’s like being stuck in line at the restroom during a concert and there are 249 people ahead of you. Yikes.

If all of the devices are fast, your turn will come much more quickly: think of your 802.11ac smartphone versus Grandma’s old 802.11g laptop. No matter what you do, the phone will be capable of going faster than the laptop. But that doesn’t mean they will get the same performance on all APs.

Ruckus helps you wring every last bit of speed out of any device with innovations like BeamFlex+, transient client management, auto RF cell sizing, airtime decongestion, and much more. When you’ve got a network with lots of Wi-Fi devices (why, hello, IoT), any extra performance boosts can make a big difference.

Jeanette Lee
Jeanette Lee

Sr. Director of Global Field Enablement When listening to music, you will catch me listening to Pink and Rush as my #1 song that's played on my playlist is "Are We All We Are," by Pink. However, as much as I love music you will never catch me singing karaoke. I also love a good book. My favorite book at the moment is "Unpronounceable" by Susan diRende. And while strolling through life, my favorite quote is, "No matter where you go, there you are."

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