Unlike most other networking technologies, wireless networks are subject to a number of external factors which can have a significant bearing on whether any proposed solution will address your business need. For this reason we will normally suggest a wireless survey as the first stage of any wireless project, in order to gather baseline information that can be used for design and quotation purposes.
What is a Wireless Survey?
A wireless survey is the first and most important step in the deployment of a wireless network. A survey of the premises is essential to understand the radio frequency (RF) behaviour, discover RF coverage areas, check for RF interference, and determine the optimum placement of wireless access points and antennas.
What is the business need for a Wireless Survey?
The survey identifies issues that are specific to your premises, which have a bearing on the number and type of wireless access points that are needed to meet the business need. Without this information it is impossible to design a solution with any confidence. Any conscientious supplier will, as part of their due diligence, want to carry out a wireless survey before quoting for a wireless solution.
What is the technical need for a Wireless Survey?
In a wireless network many issues can arise which can prevent the RF signal from reaching all parts of the premises. Examples of RF issues include multipath distortion, hidden node problems, and near/far issues. A site survey helps define the contours of RF coverage, discover areas where multipath distortion can occur, and areas where RF interference is high, and helps the engineers find solutions to eliminate such issues.
What are the steps to perform a site survey?
- Obtain a facility diagram that can be used by the Wi-Fi mapping software.
- Visually inspect the premises looking for potential barriers to the propagation of RF signals.
- Identify high- and low-traffic areas.
- Determine access point types and locations, cell coverage and overlap, channel selection, mounting locations and antenna options.
- Check power and wired network access.
- Document the findings.
- Produce a kit list for quotation purposes.
What are the results of a Wireless site survey?
A wireless survey provides detailed information that addresses coverage, interference sources, equipment placement, power considerations and wiring requirements. The site survey documentation serves as a guide for the network design phase of the project and for the installation and verification of the resulting wireless infrastructure.
Why do you charge for Wireless Surveys?
Our wireless surveys are undertaken as a separate service. Naturally we hope you will go on to buy a Cisco wireless solution from us, but there is no obligation to do so. If you wish, the survey results can be used as a basis for a separate quotation/tendering process. From our point of view there is a substantial investment in the equipment and software required to carry out wireless surveys, and undertaking a survey and documenting the findings ties up an engineer for 2-3 days. Therefore, we have to make a charge to cover our costs.
I’m not sure whether to go for an on-premise or cloud-based wireless solution. Does it make any difference to the Wireless Survey?
No. The survey deals with more mundane issues of RF coverage and access point placement. The results are equally applicable to on-premise and cloud-based solutions. We can provide Cisco on-premise (controller-based) and Cisco Meraki (cloud-based) solutions.
If I’m planning to deploy voice applications over the wireless network does it have any bearing on the Wireless Survey?
Surveying for wireless voice coverage requires more effort and time than for data-only coverage at the same site. A voice survey requires planning for coverage and capacity, because voice traffic is more susceptible to disruption when it comes to cell overlap, radio frequency (RF) noise, and packet delay.
My site includes hazardous areas. Will that affect wireless coverage?
Possibly. If wireless access points are located in areas where they are subject to extreme moisture, temperatures, and/or dust and particles, they may need to be mounted inside a sealed enclosure, which may have a bearing on their range. Be sure to tell the surveying engineer about any hazardous areas.