The importance of a wireless network
Wireless networking is an integral aspect of today’s business environment. Whereas, WiFi is as commonplace as indoor plumbing, that doesn’t mean that it is fast or reliable enough for your company’s needs.
Advancement in wireless technology increases daily. With this comes the necessity of a combination of the right equipment and proper planning. Therefore, to ensure that you are getting the most of your current network or are looking forward at a future network, we always recommend a wireless site survey.
What is a Wireless Site Survey?
A wireless site survey is an important part of the planning and design of your wireless network. It helps create a solution that will meet and/or exceed your business requirements. A survey usually takes place on-site to test for Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and identify access point locations. In addition, it may include a walk of the facility and inspection of building floor plans. This walk can help identify any potential obstacles that could interfere with the operation of the network. Most important is the opportunity of working with IT management and end users to help determine the parameters of the network.
Where to begin
Any wireless survey begins with your requirements. This would include the number of devices and the type of expected traffic on the network. Next, select the site survey that best fits your needs.
Choose the survey that best addresses you network needs while considering your building type and business operations. This will help keep you within your IT budget. Contacting a professional IT services company, like netRelevance can provide guidance on choosing the survey that best fits your situation
There are three different types of Wireless Site Surveys.
Predictive Site Surveys
A predictive wireless site survey is a virtual survey of your facility.
With this type of survey the wireless engineer loads the site floor plans and uses simulation tools to create a model of the RF environment of your facility. It additionally simulates the construction of the building including, offices, conference rooms, cubicles, walls, windows and other large objects, such as filing cabinets. It also takes all of this into consideration to predict the number and locations of access points in order for the network to meet required coverage and performance.
With good floor plans the wireless engineer can achieve a general idea of estimated coverage size and AP density and recommend a plan for AP placement
netRelevance, will usually provide this service at a minimal cost.
Passive Site Surveys
A Passive survey can give you a clearer visual picture of your coverage area to identify dead zones within your wireless infrastructure.
Passive site surveys are performed onsite and are typically the fastest and easiest to complete. During a passive site survey, the wireless engineer uses software to listen to traffic and look for problems with access points and signal strength on your wireless network. While onsite the wireless engineer will physically survey the interior and exterior of the building as well as collect data from the RF readings of the access points, ensuring that all physical factors that could impact network performance are included in the survey.
Active Site Surveys
An active site survey will ensure that your new network will meet all critical requirements. This survey is performed after a wireless network has been installed. This type of survey includes all elements of the passive survey and also includes connecting to the network’s access points. Additionally, connecting to the network via the access points allows the wireless engineer to generate network traffic. While including a measuring of the network performance and other important metrics such as packet loss and the data upload and download speeds.
In addition, this type of survey can also be performed when an established wireless network is experiencing issues that may occur over time. This may be caused by internal changes within the network (e.g. configuration changes or a higher number of users), or due to factors outside the network, such as additional external interference.
What should you expect from a Wireless Site Survey?
A proper wireless site survey will provide a visual detailed report of your coverage area as well as all aspects of your wireless infrastructure. Also, it should include specific information about network traffic for each AP in your wireless infrastructure.
- Provide accurate information on the working condition of each access point.
- Determine accurate information for access point locations.
- Produce detailed wireless coverage maps.
- Provide detailed data transmission rates.
- Identify sources and locations of interference.
- Locate rogue access points.
- Reveal coverage voids in existing deployment.
- Identify and classify neighboring networks and channel usage.
- Predictive and on-site surveys are consolidated into a complete report.
Example of a typical Wireless coverage map.
To sum up, with the information received, you can not only troubleshoot existing problems, you can optimize your network for peak performance to gain the most out of your wireless network. Let netRelevance be your resource for simplifying the process from site survey to installation therefore culminating in success.
“Whereas, WiFi is as commonplace as indoor plumbing, that doesn’t mean that it is fast or reliable enough for your company’s needs.”