Reducing power and beacon frequency
By default, most routers and wireless access points are set at the factory for full power to ensure maximum performance and coverage. Most schools use "enterprise wi-fi," designed to connect hundreds of devices with each router or Wireless Access Point (WAP) capable of providing coverage for spaces up to 2,000 square feet, far exceeding the amount of power needed for a typical classroom situation. Fortunately, adjusting the power for most systems is a simple software adjustment.
You can access the power output setting for Netgear's equipment using its online portal. By default, Transmit Power Control is set to 100% on both the 2.4Ghz and 5 GH radios. . For networks with a separate WAP in each classroom, the transmit power can be reduced to 25% or less without affecting connectivity to devices. The end result is much lower RF exposure in the classroom and surprisingly, many schools have found that performance actually increases in the wireless network due to greatly reduced interference between WAPs.
A second adjustment to power that can reduce exposure is limiting which of the two commonly found radios (2.4GHz and 5Ghz) are enabled. If you have a WAP in every classroom, disabling the 2.4GHz and keeping only the 5Ghz radio active will reduce the RF exposure in the classroom even further.
Cisco’s Meraki WAPs are easily adjusted from the online interface. Select “Target Power, ” adjust settings and Save. Again, make sure you make the adjustment for both 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz radios.
Theses are just two examples of wireless equipment that can be adjusted to reduce exposure.
Contact your IT vendor for more information about making adjustments to your school's system.
Reducing Exposure Through Beacon Signal Adjustment
Beacon signals from routers or WAPs provide connected devices with information such as SSID, timestamps, and various other parameters. Like the power output, the time interval between beacon signals can be easily adjusted. The higher the value, the more time between signals, and the less exposure for students and staff.
Most routers and WAPs default to a beacon signal interval time of 100 ms, but this can be adjusted to a significantly higher number (e.g., 1000 ms) without impacting school environments, since most beacon signals are set to accommodate people moving around and shifting from one WAP to another.
Again, testing is the best way to determine the proper beacon signal for your school environment.
Please note: Reducing the levels of RF radiation through these measures is an important temporary step in mitigating exposure, but should not be considered sufficient to alleviate the problem or extinguish potential liability. We strongly advocate for the replacement of all classroom wireless technology with hardwired systems.