Tag Archives: Wi-Fi Reliability

Loose Lips Sink Ships (and Network Credibility)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one… A manager- no a DIRECTOR, or a DEAN, or a CIO, or a DOCTOR, or some other person of title– walks into a bar. She tries to use the Wi-Fi, and it doesn’t immediately work, so she declares that the network sucks. And people hear her. Now, because people tend to listen to authority figures, her words get repeated. Pretty soon the off-hand comment, based in one user’s frustration, slowly becomes reality (well, maybe Kardashian-style not really reality).

But… it does become an accepted “fact” by the Person of Title’s circle that the bar has sucky Wi-Fi. And eventually, someone has to answer for that sucky Wi-Fi. It doesn’t matter that while The Legend of Sucky Wi-Fi is growing to epic proportion, hundreds of other of users are enjoying the bar’s Wi-Fi. They just aren’t talking about it, and they don’t have circles of followers that take their word as gospel and pass it on.

Maybe she didn’t mean to cause a kerfuffle, and maybe she did. For some people, if Wi-Fi isn’t working right, it’s everyone’s fault but their own (or their device’s). Regardless- the damage is done. That network has been labelled as bad, and therefor it IS bad, because of who labelled it. So now someone needs to fix what ain’t broke, even if it all amounts to is re-education and demonstration that the network isn’t problematic. That is- IF the person of title is even willing to be convinced (some are, some are not).

Unfortunately, there’s no punchline here.

If you’re reading this, and you are a leader of any sort (the kind that people listen to), the WLAN community asks this of you:

  • Remember that your Wi-Fi client device is like everyone else’s, even though it’s yours.
  • Wi-Fi client devices don’t always act the same way as you travel from network to network. This includes expensive client devices.
  • Not all Wi-Fi networks are set up the same, and sometimes what you expect based on your frame of reference isn’t what happens,
  • None of this means that the Wi-Fi network sucks or is broken.

At the same time, network problems DO occur. Sometimes they impact all wireless clients. Sometimes they impact just you. There’s no way to tell what’s going unless a system administrator gets involved. So… rather than declaring that the network sucks and invoking The Butterfly Effect From Hell For Wi-Fi Networkers, why not help us to help you? Report the problem, including symptoms and a specific time and very detailed location where you experienced your frustration, and wait to see what the outcome is.

A huge part of being a network administrator is basically proving that the network is OK, and solving client-specific problems. The first part often comes from off-hand comments that are blown up into issues bigger than they are because of who said them, and the second is often the reality behind the first.

So c’mon… give us a chance- before you trash the network.