Enterprise wireless local area networks (WLANs) that consist of a high-density of hundreds to thousands of access points (APs) are being deployed rapidly in corporate ofﬁces and university campuses. The primary purpose of these deployments is to satisfy user demands for high bandwidth, mobility, and reliability. However, our recent study of two such WLANs showed that these networks are rarely used at their peak capacity, and the majority of their resources are frequently idle. In this paper, we bring to attention that a large fraction of idle WLAN resources results in signiﬁcant energy losses. Thousands of WLANs world-wide collectively compound this problem, while raising serious concerns about the energy losses that will occur in the future.
In response to this compelling problem, we propose the adoption of resource on-demand (RoD) strategies for WLANs. RoD strategies power on or off WLAN APs dynamically, based on the volume and location of user demand. As a speciﬁc solution, we propose SEAR, a practical and elegant RoD strategy for high-density WLANs. We implement SEAR on two wireless networks to show that SEAR is easy to integrate in current WLANs, while it ensures no adverse impact on enduser connectivity and performance. In our experiments, SEAR reduces power consumption by 46%. Using our results we discuss several interesting problems that open future directions of research in RoD WLANs.