What is the impact of security mechanisms on mobility?

The healthcare industry adheres to another layer of security requirements prescribed by laws addressing privacy and a patient’s clinical information (e.g. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, PCI (Payment Card Industry)). Protecting electronic health information is an essential business need for hospital administrators. Fortunately, Wi-Fi has strong encryption and authentication capabilities in the form of WPA2 to assist IT managers in implementing security policies.

The basic security principle in IEEE 802.11 is that each time a client connects to an AP it must complete the authentication process. The two main types of security used are WPA2-Personal and WPA2-Enterprise and each has a different impact on roaming behavior because WPA2-Enterprise requires more steps in the authentication process. When the Enterprise version of Wi-Fi Protected Access® 2 is used, the required authentication when roaming adds time to the authentication or re-authentication process. For mobile devices, this added time may impact real-time streaming client performance. For important clinical applications like telemetry, where mobility is a part of the clinical usage, the use of a fast roaming algorithm such as 802.11r is recommended. As an example, when high quality of service (QoS) applications such as VoIP are used on a properly implemented Wi-Fi network, the combination of WPA2-Enterprise and fast roaming techniques provide a secure and reliable connection. The Wi-Fi Alliance’s Voice-Enterprise certification incorporates these important capabilities and is a key enabler of a high-performing enterprise WLAN.