How to Count WiFi Users

Counting the number of visitors or devices on a WiFi network is a straightforward metric that organizations are tracking at physical locations. There are several reasons why organizations need to track this. Sometimes it’s to ensure a positive customer experience or to help in the sales process. Sometimes it’s because there is a regulation or KPI that needs these numbers to be reported. Finally, sometimes it’s tracked for employee productivity or energy savings.

Whatever the reason for needing to count the number of wireless users, from a solution standpoint, it usually comes down to 1 basic question.

Do you need to provide counts just 1 time? Or do you need to provide counts continuously over a time frame. Depending on which you’re trying to do, determines what kind of solution that you need to deploy at the space.

For example, if someone is asking you to count the number of WiFi visitors that are there next Friday during a specific event, then you only need a single, 1 time count of the visitors.

But if someone is asking you to provide a count of WiFi visitors every quarter, or every day in January, and then wants a comparison to see how February’s WiFi counts compare to January, you need a different solution.

We’ll cover the different solutions based on which problem you’re trying to solve.

Seeing How Many Visitors are there once

If you’re trying to count the number of visitors just once for a specific time or a specific event, then it’s pretty straightforward. Let’s say someone has asked you to provide the number of wireless visitors for a specific event next Friday at 3pm. They’d just like to know how many people joined the network to get a basic idea of how many people joined the free wifi during this particular event.

The solution is pretty straight forward.

You can login to your wireless router or access point, and usually just get a list from the DHCP list before the event. Then get a 2nd count during event. This will give a good indication of how many people joined the network during the event. This won’t be completely accurate as there is lag time, but it’s a good indicator. If you have a DHCP Server on your network, you can do these same steps, but just by checking the DHCP Server instead.

You can also partner with software companies like WhoFi that provide the WiFi analytics you need to understand WiFi utilization for your organization.

Either of these solutions should provide you with the information that you need to show management or the board how many visitors used the WiFi at that specific time.

Counting Wireless Visitors over time

If you’re trying to count the number of WiFi users of a period of time though, you really need a different solution. If you need to track the wireless visitors over lets say a quarter, then the idea of manually logging into the DHCP server or router every few hours to get accurate counts can be mind numbing. At this point, smaller organizations often pay someone to login to the router or take a manual tally every day, while larger organizations start writing custom shell scripts or look at api integration. The problem with these custom solutions is that they’ve just created a job for themselves, when often a much more straightforward and inexpensive product based solution already exists.

Generally speaking, if you’re trying to track wifi visitor usage over a defined time frame, you really need a WiFi Analytics solution.

WiFi Analytics solutions do the job of tracking/counting the devices on a wireless network, storing this information into some kind of database, reporting on this information in a user friendly format, and giving access to the information to other members of the team to get it out of being a constant IT responsibility.

There are several WiFi Analytics solutions available.

Some solutions require certain routers, while other solutions are router independent.

WiFi Analytics solutions also provide other benefits outside of counting devices, but you can learn more about what’s possible with these solutions on our  WiFi Analytics page.