Insights into building a solid I.T. foundation in the mid-size business world.

Forcing clients to use 5GHz on a Ruckus Wireless network

logo-ruckusMy office relies on a Ruckus Wireless-based wifi system, which has worked very well for us. We’re currently using a ZoneDirector 1000 controller and three ZoneFlex 7962 access points (they replaced the original, 2.4GHz-only ZF 7942 units we had for the sake of adding dual-band capability).

I recently came to discover that many of our laptops, despite being capable of using the 5GHz band, were preferring the 2.4GHz band (presumably due to a logic choice made based on each band’s signal strength at the time of connection). Since wifi performance is known to be better on the 5GHz band, I began looking into how to set up two separate SSIDs, each for the exclusive use of either 2.4GHz or 5GHz.

Turns out it’s not that difficult – here’s how:

  1. First, do a thorough audit of your office’s wifi-enabled equipment, as there’s a good chance that a handful of your devices are only capable of 2.4GHz-based connectivity, so you’ll want to be sure to take them into account. In my case, our Axis 207w security cameras, a few wifi-connected printers, an EyeFi-enabled digital camera and the 1st generation Nexus 7 tablets we use as meeting room status displays fell into this category.
  2. On the ZoneDirector 1000’s administrative interface, go to Configure -> WLANs and create your WLANs. In my case, I kept our original SSID (which I’ll call “MainWiFi” for these purposes) and added a second WLAN called “MainWiFi 2.4GHz.”
  3. Next, add two new WLAN Groups – one called “2.4GHz only” and another called “5GHz only” – and then specify which WLANs should be a member of which group (in my case, I set “MainWiFi” as the member of “5GHz only” and “MainWiFi 2.4GHz” is the sole member of “2.4GHz only”).Note that you should leave the “Default” WLAN Group intact and, at least in my case, all WLANs should remain active members of that group.
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    Finally, go to Access Points and edit the “System Default” Access Point Group – use the WLAN Group drop-down menus to specify each of your WLAN Groups to associate with each radio band.

Voila! Since I didn’t alter our existing primary SSID, the majority of the office doesn’t require any reconfiguring and they’ll connect to the 5GHz band the next time they authenticate.

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