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Lights out! Why IT shops are disabling wireless AP LEDs

Bob Brown | Sept. 9, 2016
Wi-Fi access point LEDs are keeping some people up at night

These DIY fixes are not nearly as problematic as, say, rogue IT installations that can introduce security holes and interfere with network performance. But the downside of people covering up LEDs on access points for IT is that if someone calls to report a wireless issue, they can no longer pass along info about the lights on the AP until they remove whatever they used to cover them up. Some devices feature multiple lights, while others have a single light that changes colors to convey information.

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Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the APs entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.

Matthias Machowinski, senior research director for enterprise networks & video at IHS Technology, says he's come across the Wi-Fi access point LED issue in reviewing consumer products for his personal consumption and understands how this could be an issue in certain enterprise environments. "If anything, this illustrates the importance of  a good management system where you can make changes easily from a central console."

Hewlett Packard Enterprise company Aruba Networks says it does provide configuration options so that customers can disable LEDs in a centralized way. Indeed, Aruba has customers who want the lights off so that attention isn’t drawn to APs in certain public venues, such as performing arts halls, where the aesthetics would be compromised. Aruba has also seen customers in the hospitality field turn off AP lights in guests’ rooms. 

So it's not like the latest APs from Cisco, Aruba and others are unsightly. It's just that in some environments, people could do with a little less light.


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