Do You Have a Wired or Wireless Problem?

Wired or wireless? How to quickly narrow down if you have a Wi-Fi problem.

In this video, we’re going to share a little bit of information how you might be able to help your customers see whether or not it is truly a Wi-Fi problem.

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Wired or wireless

how to quickly narrow

down if you have a Wi-Fi problem

many times Wi-Fi

problems or issues

when people complain about Wi-Fi

they actually aren’t Wi-Fi at all

and yet because today

Wi-Fi is the access layer

anyone having trouble getting access to

anything on the network

will call

complain and

describe their problem as being a Wi-Fi problem

but what we really need to know is

is it really a Wi-Fi problem or might it be

something else so in this video

we’re going to share a little bit of information

how you might be able to help your customers

see whether or not it is truly

a Wi-Fi problem

well we really have to do is focus and learn

how a client device

a Wi-Fi device gets on the network

now along the way there’s some steps

and if we can find those

steps and say oh

you accomplished this step

we can then assume all the previous steps

happened as well

there is first

association request response

client decides which AP to join

since authentication requests

authentication response association request

association response

that’s the 802.11 part

and then that 802.11 part the clients

making all these decisions

and then depending on the side you

have Open PSK or .1X

there’s another authentication process

and then this little slide

it shows it’s a separate little bubble there

post authentication

there may or may not be some form

of encryption None TKIP

hopefully no TKIP

or .1X

after that is cleared

there’s a port control

meaning the AP is controlling the

port won’t let the client device

get out the wired side of its AP

and so if authentication is passed

and encryption is passed

you can now pass traffic through the

AP over onto the Wired network

now usually what happens is there’s a DHCP request

and in the DHCP response

they get a VLAN assignment

an IP address, a subnet mask

and some DNS information

at that point the client device

can access any of the local

network resources

one of which may be a

captive portal

you have to first accomplish it

802.11 Association Authentication Encryption

get passport control

do a DHCP

get an IP address back and then the

captive portal is triggered

after the captive portal is cleared

if you have one then you have full

network access

so this is just a quick review of

how a client gets on to the network

so how do we use

this information to help

us understand better

is it a wired or wireless problem

does the client have an IP address

meaning on the wireless

NIC in order to get an

IP address on the wireless NIC it had to finish


authentication, encryption

poor control, upper layers

and have the AP transfer its

DHCP request across the wired

network and to get a DHCP

response and then it receives

an IP address

so we know if a

wireless device has a

wireless IP address

how did he get it

it got it via the wireless network

so obviously the Wi-Fi is working

it’s doing what it needs to do to get the

information across the AP

across the wireless

over through the AP to the wired and getting that back

now what if we get one of those PIP addresses

the automatic IP addressing addresses the

you know you’ve seen them

167 addresses

in order to get that

the client device has to make a DHCP

request time out and fail

which means wireless is working

because they had to get passed 802.11

passed authentication, passed encryption,

passed upper layer and then have it fail

so even if you get in the pipe address and sometimes on

some clients, if you get one of those

you get the boing boing boings of Wi-Fi

but in the middle is a exclamation point

meaning they didn’t get in routable IP address

but that also means Wi-Fi is working

now the other thing you could do

you could ask a question

you could ping the Wi-Fi client

from the wired side of the network

you ping the client

if it responds, you know that it’s up

not only did have an IP address

you already knew that

but you can also talk to it

over from the Wired network across the

wireless and back again

now my favorite is

to check on the client device itself

what its MCS is

modulation encoding scheme is

a numbering kind of a


a classifier system of

all the possible things you could have


a connectivity



channel width

guard interval those all and spatial streams

well if you have a client that can do two spatial streams

40 minute Hertz client and get a

specific number if it’s

getting that that means that that

client device when it went to

transmit was able to transmit

using that very sophisticated fairly

complicated method and

was able to successfully send a signal

so we can look at the MCS

index of a client and

find out when it’s going to transmit its

next frame

is it happy with the RF

so the IP address allows us to

know that it’s working

the pinging the client says

yes and it’s transferring data back over the

wire but MCS it’s

telling us about the RF

situation where that client is

so I love him

yes it’s my favorite one to go to

if you have a Mac just hold down the option

key and hit the little boing boing boing

and you can find out what your MCS is

I recommend using a tool called

Wi-Fi Signal from Adrian Granados

does the same thing and can even plot on your screen

MCS over time

now if you have a Windows machine

a little tougher

Windows clients don’t use MCS

and send it up the protocol stack

but they do give you a data rate

so you can take MCS chart

look at the data and kind of reverse engineer it

now the first three we showed you

that means wireless is working

but if you really care about the call your

wireless check the MCS index

now if you really want to go a little step further

you can do a throughput test

there’s an app that comes on

iOS and Android called

Cloud Check which will do

like a speed test on that on

the wired side but it will also do

a wireless test

now I’m not totally sure exactly how they do the wireless test

I’ve tested hundreds of times

it’s not exactly perfect

but at least gives you an idea if

my wireless is faster than my wired and that happens a lot

the wireless is happy

it’s the wired Internet connection

that’s having difficulty

again you can do the same thing with me

yes I have an MCS and it’s transmitting data at 400 500 meg

but I’m only getting 500 off of my speed test on that

well now I know the wireless is working

I’m sending data to the AP very quickly but from the

AP on is where it’s slowing down

so compare the two

the wired side throughput versus the

wireless side throughput to see where the problem might be

now if you have very slow on the wireless

and it matches the wired

then it’s probably a wireless issue

you’re wired shouldn’t be your bottleneck

and if it is then that’s probably where you should be looking

now you can always just do the old fashioned

check RSSI

check SNR those work

but they don’t tell me about the health of the RF

at that point I would rather use them

so if I have a high SNR maybe 25 or 30

I should be getting really good MCS

if I’m not that means we’ve

got some congestion someplace

I’m getting a good SNR I’m getting

a good RSS but for whatever reason

my client’s choosing not to use a

higher MCS so I could use as comparison as the last one

this is more of a question

is the problem you’re looking for isolated

is it an individual client

is it all the worst clients

it’s the clients who are on wireless in this side of the building

so ask some penetrating questions to find out exactly

where the problem is and I’ll help you

figure out whether or not it’s wired

or a wireless problem

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