Meraki has veered off the traditional path in terms of wireless networking utilities.  This vender has recently set a free of charge; internet browser based; wireless scanner and troubleshooting tool in motion, and named it Meraki WiFi Stumbler.  The majority of these types of utilities need a software installation, but all that this needs is a Java applet: transforming it into a network troubleshooter that works through your browser.

This Stumbler bears an identical, clean and simple interface to the Enterprise Wireless LAN solution offered by Meraki, available at $799. However, it is neither as attractive, nor as interactional as the NetSurveyor Professional interface, $34.95, but, because it is based on your browser, it is extremely lightweight, and it is free.

The interface is divided into 3 sections: on top is the bar graph which displays information on the amount of access points that are using wireless channels.  During testing, when Firefox 3.5 was directed to a list of 18 of these access points, near the WLAN, was immediately given.  After using various networking utilities it became apparent that channel 11 is the channel most widely made use of, a very important piece of information when attempting to troubleshoot issues of performance, since being able to identify the channel being utilized the least can significantly heighten the wireless performance.

The middle part of the interface is where you will locate the Search field, although it was not clear what the search options were until Advanced Search was selected.  You are able to locate specific access points and routers, and, when using the advanced option, are able to base your search on dissimilar parameters, or by the access point manufacturer.

The bottom part of the interface holds both the listings and details of adjacent wireless networks, listed by tabs representing Manufacturer; SSID; Address; Channel; Mac Address; and Radio Type; this table also holds information on the kind of security being used on each of these, as well as the strength of the signal.  It’s a compact view relating information on whom or what is the cause of interference in your domain, and affording you RF challenges.  It’s also an excellent way to monitor varying signal strength if you put an antenna or AP in a specific position.

There are no frills to this Stumbler; it is a direct manner of gathering data on WLANs and access points.  Evidence of Meraki’s committal to ensuring that their customers remain satisfied is found in the wish list it has provided, enabling users to present requests for additions or changes to the interface, and this also heralds improvements.