How to Troubleshoot Wi-Fi connectivity issues

OAC or Pulse is unable to associate to an access point or connects but has frequent drops.

Association problems can range from simple to very hard to diagnose. The problem can exist anywhere from hardware problems to configuration or even compatibility issue. Fortunately OAC has some tools to help troubleshoot these problems.

  • Is this a new problem in an old deployment?
    If it’s a new problem in an old deployment what you should focus on primarily is updates. Check to see if the APs were reconfigured or had their firmware upgraded. Check to see if the client end points have had new updates including NIC driver updates.
  • Is this a new deployment?
    With a new deployment you want to focus first on the access point configuration. There shouldn’t’t be any guess work when it comes to setting up a WLAN. I suggest a secure meeting to view how the customer’s APs are configured, I’d also suggest getting a copy of the AP config to attach to the case. You want to confirm that the OAC\Pulse configuration matches the Access Point.
  • If the work station is unable to associate to the access point and you’ve confirmed that the configuration is correct and that the AP does not have any proprietary Wi-Fi features enabled you’ll want to confirm that the problem is not specific to the Wi-Fi adapter. First see if there is an upgrade for the NIC. If an upgrade is not available or does not fix the issue suggest to the customer to test with a different NIC preferable from a different manufacturer than the one being used. So in the case of an Intel NIC try a Cisco or Broadcom. If the customer does not have or is unwilling to test with another adapter the next best thing is to get a wireless packet capture and a level 5 OAC log. Include a system information file (winmsd or msinfo32).

NOTE: On Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems you need to specify in OAC Network configuration if the SSID is non broadcasting. Failing to do so will result in the network adapter being unable to associate.

In the event that the network adapter is associating and network connectivity is established, but the connection is intermittent you want to check the following.

1.Review the OAC\Pulse logs and confirm that roaming is not the issue. This document does not cover roaming issue.
2.Confirm that the problem is not being caused by another wireless supplicant. Don’t disable the native Windows client OAC disables it during install, Pulse requires the native supplicant to function.
3.Check the RSSI level of the SSID. RSSI stands for received signal strength indicator. In simple terms it’s a measure of signal strength. The lower the number the better. For example -43 is good were -500 is awful. Depending on the NIC in question if the single were to hit -500 the adapter may interpret that as no signal and a connection will be terminated. What you would expect to see in a debug log is the NIC attempt a new association immediately following the disconnect. In cases like this all you can do is inform the customer and suggest they investigate.

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James Palmer

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