Wireless networking is now considered a must have in nearly all industries. It’s no surprise I get a lot of comments from clients who believe they are experiencing wireless trouble in some form or fashion. They aren’t sure if it’s related to wireless controller configuration, AP placement, coverage gaps, interference, or even client machine problems. Even though Wi-Fi is nearly as prevalent as indoor plumbing, it doesn’t mean it’s always deployed properly, is reliable enough, or fast enough to address our clients needs. When something is not quite right with WIFI performance, what do I do? I’ll tell you what I do! I suggest a wireless survey and wireless assessment. Surveys are the best tool a wireless engineer has available to assist them with visualizing an invisible medium like RF. Actively scanning the frequency ranges often used for Wi-Fi as the physical location is walked is the de-facto way to record concrete data on signal, strength, interference, and a whole range of other valuable information. It’s really the only way to understand exactly what’s happening between a laptop client and the access points that dot a location.
There are several survey options, not all of them involve going onsite and actively scanning an RF environment. Sometimes a new facility is being built or a greenfield office is being setup and the client needs assistance estimating the number of access points and the location they should be mounted. With good floor plans it’s not too difficult to get a general idea on estimated coverage size and AP density and AP placement planning. This type of guidance is usually provided in the form of a predictive survey. I’ll provide a little more detail on the survey types below.
Different Types of Wireless Site Surveys
If you’re serious about uncovering what’s wrong with your wireless network design, you first need to understand the four different kinds of site surveys that address WIFI concerns:
What’s Included with Active/Passive Onsite Wireless Site Survey
So now that know you about the three different categories of site surveys for WiFi design, what can you expect when you invest in a wireless survey? And what’s included?
The Onsite Survey Report Outlines
In most wireless site surveys, a floor plan with access point locations, data rate heatmap, throughput heatmap, and signal strength heatmap is created for each floor in the building.
So when a company signs up for a wireless site survey, how do they benefit? And what are some typical findings?
While one of the most common goals is to identify configurations that would negatively impact WIFI network performance, there are several findings that surface quite often. These findings can include:
When one or more of these findings are acted on and implemented, companies generally see an immediate and dramatic improvement in their wireless network performance.
From these findings, the wireless network design engineers will introduce recommendations that remedy as many of these problems as possible including:
If you find yourself with WIFI woes please contact your LookingPoint Account Manager and ask about the wireless survey offerings available to you!
Written By: Michael Lorincz, LookingPoint Network Engineer