By now you’re probably aware of a press release earlier this month proclaiming “Holiday Decorations Can Create Major WiFi Disturbances.”
I tend to agree with others that have stated “Airmagnet's ploy in all of this is to draw attention to the company as a developer of WiFi analysis tools, and to be honest, we find it pretty humorous.” I must admit that it was pretty effective as news alert after news alert filled my inbox. Is end-of-year news that hard to come by?
What I didn’t hear of is anyone refuting the claim or running their own tests. Rather then wait for the MythBusters guys to run a segment on the Discovery Channel, I decided to go out on a spruce limb and test for myself.
Armed with a variety of artificial trees, ornaments, wreaths, and lights, I proceeded to deploy the decorations in a wide variety of scenarios. I figured my tests were as valid as the aforementioned since no methodology was revealed in the press release.
Results? The worst case observation was a three percent loss in signal strength. Admittedly, this was an office setting. I did not test the affect on user in a warehouse 600 feet away from an AP. <Shameless plug> For good measure (no pun intended), I used both OmniPeek for expert WiFi analysis and OmniSpectrum for a detail look at the RF. </Shameless plug>
The ornamental press release cleverly states that “signal deterioration leaves users experiencing sluggish and dropped connections” but failed to state that signal deterioration did leave users experiencing… Were the applications in the holiday setting actually analyzed? In our case, there was no significant impact on users. I’ve seen far worse with real interferers like microwave ovens and wireless security cameras.
This reminds me of the old days when we thought that an error statistic like say, some percentage of collisions on shared bus coaxial Ethernet surely must have an impact on the end users. Well, get out there and measure the user experience, not just errors on the wire! Both are important. But I digress.
Perhaps to get the dramatic 25% drop in signal strength as mentioned in the press release, next year I need haul in the giant Christmas tree from the Rockefeller Center and retest. Cheers.