Why doesn’t my device connect to the closest pod?
Many devices will connect to the closest pod when first connecting to the network. After connecting, which pod a device connects to is determined by two factors: the cloud and the device. Either the cloud determines the best connection, which may not be the closest pod, or the device chooses where to connect. However, a device always has the final say on which pod it will connect to.
How does a device decide where it should connect?
Pods and other Wi-Fi access points broadcast signals, called beacons, to tell devices that they are present. When connecting, a device may choose to connect to the first beacon it sees or the beacon with the strongest signal. This choice is based on the design of the device. Some older devices may also treat beacons from each pod as a separate network. For more information on this see the following article: Wemo device sees duplicate SSIDs
After connecting, some devices that move around are designed to hold on to a Wi-Fi connection. This may be done by staying connected to the same pod even after the connection becomes unusable. In some cases, a device may store information about the pod and always try to reconnect to the same pod. For devices that do roam between pods, turning the Wi-Fi off and on may connect the device to the nearest pod until it is steered by the cloud.
How does the cloud decide where a device should connect?
Client Steering allows the cloud to connect a device to a specific pod. The choice of where to steer a device is based on the speed of the connection. The cloud checks the entire path the data travels when choosing a device-to-pod connection. Each Wi-Fi hop between pods increases the time taken to send data, so eliminating extra hops will speed up the connection. This means the closest pod will not always be the fastest connection.
The cloud also takes into account the number of devices and how much bandwidth is being used on each pod. If too many devices or too much bandwidth is being used on a pod, a device may be steered to another connection. Also, the maximum speed of the data path is also determined by the speed of the slowest hop on the path. All of these are taken into account by the cloud when a device is steered to a connection.
Why can’t I force my device to connect to a specific pod?
Like optimizations, cloud based steering takes into consideration many factors that a user may not even know about. Even for devices that do not move, changes in the Wi-Fi environment may change the best connection. The cloud can monitor all of this and make changes as soon as needed.