Why do I need a Wi-Fi Survey or plan and what does it involve?

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Are you looking to install a new wireless network? Or do you have an existing wireless network which is performing poorly?

If so, the first step is carrying out a wireless survey. We have put together this short guide to explain to process involved and what you should look for.

To begin with, you need to define what you really want from your wireless network. You may already have a strong idea of your needs, or you may not have any idea at all. If you find yourself in this situation, we have provided three vital questions to help:

  1. What is your desired coverage area? Where do you need wireless in your premises?
  2. What is your device capacity? How many devices are you planning on using?
  3. What will you use the network for? What programs or services will use the wireless? Will this be simple web browsing or something more complex?

Once you have answered these three questions, you should now be able to answer the question “What do you want from your wireless network?.

The next step is knowing if your network meets the three requirements listed above. This is done through a Wi-Fi survey or plan, which explains the reason for a survey and why it’s so vital. If you skip your Wi-Fi survey, it makes it much more difficult to ensure your wireless network will sufficiently meet your requirements.

Planning - APs-5GHz

Here you can see the results of a site survey using Ekahau.

So, we need a survey but how do we go about conducting the survey, making sure all aspects are covered? We do this by following the following steps:

Outline the initial requirements

The purpose of the network should now be defined but we must establish all of the required aspects to create a detailed plan. This includes understanding all of the areas that need coverage and if any areas are to be excluded. The plan will also need to consider any areas that cannot have access points installed. Finally, budget also needs to be considered. When providing a wireless proposal for a client, we would discuss budgets at this stage and advise what options are available.

Create a plan

Coverage can be easily achieved by flooding an area with access points. This, in reality, does not make for a good network. In fact this can introduce problems, not to mention the huge impact to any budget. This is where a good survey and planning will pay off.  A good plan will design an optimum environment for access point count, channel overlap, capacity requirements, signal propagation and coverage. This will in turn provide the right design to meet the wireless network requirements.

Visit the proposed location

No survey or plan can be considered truly complete until a site survey, with active equipment, has been conducted. The reason for this is there is no definitive way to understand what the existing environment looks like and what the signal propagation will be without going to site to conduct an active equipment survey. Here at Coretek, we carry out on-site surveys using the industry leading Ekahau Site Survey software. This takes into consideration the building itself and the factors listed above (devices, coverage, usage) and provides a detailed report on how to configure the wireless network for optimum performance.

Summary

So, should I have a Wi-Fi survey done? Only if you want your wireless network to work well! As described, this is the best way to ensure that the wireless network will work reliably, with the devices you wish to use and with coverage in the areas you need it.

If you have any questions about your wireless network set up or you would like to book your wireless survey contact us today! You can call us on 0800 304 7444 or email us at enquiries@Coretek.co.uk.

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