Why do we carry out wireless surveys?
Cablers Network & AV Solutions provide a complete range of services to organisations planning to implement wireless and mobile network solutions.
The best piece of advice i can give you before you embark on your wireless adventure is to do some homework on the company or consultant you plan to work with. Ask for testimonials and case studies, these will always be provided by businesses with a proven track record. Unfortunately we visit too many organizations that have had wireless networks installed which have never worked properly or were not fit for purpose. Cablers have consequently improved these networks beyond measure for the end users but problems are easily avoided in the first place if you choose the right installation partner and you take advantage of a comprehensive wireless survey.
What is a Wireless site survey?
A wireless survey is the necessary first step in the deployment of any wireless network. It is the most essential element for providing the wireless coverage you are expecting and it will ultimately help you avoid any disappointment with its desired operation.
All wireless signals are broadcast as radio frequencies (RF). A wireless survey is a process by which a surveyor studies your building to understand the behavior of the radio frequencies. (RF) The purpose of a wireless survey is to make sure that the wireless you have in place or the wireless you will order is fit for purpose.
Through the process of RF testing we are able to build a detailed picture of your site. Signal information is collated onto a map which shows the behavior of the RF signals. The testing will have taken into account the fabric of your building, routes for additional cabling (if required) and signal strength in detail. It will pinpoint any areas prone to interference and will help determine the appropriate placement of wireless access points to provide the best coverage.
Signal Strength is most commonly known as ’coverage’ and it is the basic requirement for a wireless network. As a general guideline, low signal strength means unreliable connections and low data throughput. This will have a direct bearing on the way any device connected to the wireless network performs. Therefore a survey such as this is a great way to check the health of your existing network and asses any negative interference and/or Access Point connectivity.
The results of a proper site survey provide the detailed information that addresses coverage, interference sources, equipment placement, power considerations and cabling requirements. The site survey documentation will also serve as a guide for the network design and for the installation of your wireless infrastructure.
Be careful not to underestimate the effort and resources required to properly survey, design and deploy a wireless network. We have seen experienced IT professionals make the same mistake. You cannot just throw a few access points where you think they are most needed, or that the managed wireless controller that is sitting in your communications cabinet will take care of everything. Your wireless signal is impacted by many elements including neighboring wireless networks, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, microwaves, alarm systems and even plumbing.
Not all wireless surveys are equal and it can be quite difficult to tell if that person walking around your site knows what they are doing. Here are a few things to look out for:
- Make sure they want to attend site to carry out the survey. If your offered a remote survey without the vendor ever visiting site be aware that a remote survey will not answer any of the questions needed to design a robust wireless network.
- Hopefully you are asked pertinent questions relating to you current number of devices and usage patterns and your aspirations for the future use of your network. This shows that the company you are dealing with is consultative and your not just going to get a prescriptive solution. One size does not fit all!
- You have been asked for a plan of your building so that it can be incorporated into the software package that tests you RF coverage.
- Make sure they take their time and check your whole building, they should also check the communications cabinet to make sure you have space for the supporting infrastructure requirements such as available switch ports, power over ethernet (POE), electrical power, and rack space needed to support the installation. They may also want to test existing cables that you plan to utilise or look at potential routes for new cabling and containment.
These are just a few things to look out for when choosing who provides your wireless solution. You will pay for a properly designed network with your time or your money when you have to redo the work. Our customers save time and money by avoiding poorly designed and deployed wireless networks. They have Cablers experts on hand providing radio frequency & interference analysis, cabling, coverage and all the capacity information needed to deploy a high performing, secure and reliable wireless network.
The moral of this story is to “Get a Survey, before you go wireless.”
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