802.11 Standards RF Wi-Fi Design

Discover Windows Wi-Fi Capabilities with PowerShell

Some time ago, I wrote a post about the importance of understanding the Wi-Fi capabilities of mobile devices. The post dives deep into how these capabilities influence Wi-Fi network modifications and the decision-making process. You can read more about it here.

When designing or upgrading a Wi-Fi network, understanding the capabilities of client devices is crucial. Devices vary in their support for Wi-Fi standards (e.g., 802.11ac, 802.11ax), frequency bands, and advanced features like MU-MIMO and WPA3 authentication. Accurate knowledge of these capabilities ensures optimal network performance, compatibility, and future-proofing.

Methods for Gathering Windows Wi-Fi Capabilities

There are several methods that wireless engineers typically use for gathering Wi-Fi client capabilities, and each method has its own advantages:

  1. Vendor Documentation: Provides official and detailed specifications directly from the device manufacturer. Ideal for obtaining precise and reliable data, but it can sometimes be difficult to source.
  2. Wi-Fi Alliance Certifications: Ensures the device meets industry standards and supports advertised features. Useful for validating compliance and interoperability of devices, though certification data might not be readily accessible or detailed enough for all devices.
  3. Over-the-Air Packet Capture: Provides real-time data on active devices within the network. Effective for assessing the capabilities of devices currently connected to the network but requires additional hardware and technical expertise to set up and interpret the data. One of the more popular methods for performing an OTA capture is by using the Profiler Tool on a small form factor computer called the WLAN Pi.

Introducing WinWifiSupport

While the above methods are valuable, I wanted to address the need for an easy-to-use tool in corporate environments where most clients use Windows laptops. To meet this need, I created WinWifiSupport. This straightforward PowerShell tool collects and reports the Wi-Fi capabilities of Windows devices. It provides insights into supported technologies, including radio types, spatial streams, and security features.

I chose PowerShell because it’s available on all Windows clients out of the box. Unlike a language such as Python, it doesn’t require additional installation steps. Using an in-built solution means my customers can easily gather this data when needed. They can collect the necessary information before I start a project or wireless survey, or when I am working remotely.

Key Information Provided by WinWifiSupport

Here are the key pieces of information that WinWifiSupport provides:

  • Supported radio types (e.g., 802.11ac, 802.11ax): Indicates which Wi-Fi standards the device can use, affecting speed and range.
  • Number of Tx/Rx spatial streams: Shows the number of data streams the device can transmit and receive, influencing throughput and performance.
  • MU-MIMO support: Indicates if the device can handle multiple data streams simultaneously, improving efficiency in busy networks.
  • Security features like WPA3 authentication: Ensures advanced security protocols are supported, enhancing network protection.
  • Channel and frequency band support: Specifies the supported frequency bands and channels, critical for avoiding interference and optimising performance.
  • Protected Management Frames: Provides added security for Wi-Fi management frames, preventing certain types of attacks.
  • DOT11k neighbor report: Helps with seamless roaming between access points by reporting neighboring APs.
  • Fast Transition: Supports faster handoffs between access points, improving the user experience in mobile environments.
  • BSS Transition (802.11v): Helps with efficient client steering between access points for better connectivity.

Example Output

Below is an example of the detailed report generated by WinWifiSupport.

Getting Started with WinWifiSupport

To get started with WinWifiSupport, visit the GitHub repository for the latest version. Simply download the script, run it on your Windows device, and obtain a comprehensive report on your Windows client’s Wi-Fi capabilities. Be sure to check the repository for updates and additional documentation.

Leave a Reply