Wireless Site Surveys

It is essential to avoid a trial-and-error installation of your Enterprise Wireless LAN so preforming a wireless survey is a pre-requisite before installing a Wi-Fi network.

A proactive, physical approach will take into account the different signal propagation due to the construction of the building, fire doors and lifts. It will identify interference issues e.g. from inside and outside your facility, and ensure the correct physical placement of Access Points for optimal performance and security.

Today, the wireless infrastructure is fully integrated with your LAN network and both perform as one to enable your IT Dept to provide a fully functional solution to all Staff and Guest users.

Before commencing any wireless survey, a number of key requirements need to be defined to identify the types of devices that will be using the network, the types of applications to be run on those devices, and the level of security that needs to be provided.

In addition to the types of devices using the network, the number of simultaneous devices and the average and peak traffic loads expected by those devices is a critical factor to designing a Wi-Fi network. In high capacity areas, such as classrooms, training rooms, conference centres or stadiums, one access point may be more than sufficient to provide coverage, but multiple access points will be needed to handle the high number and traffic volume of devices.

wireless heatmap

In summary, for all groups above, a basic survey should consider where wireless coverage is required, how much bandwidth will be needed for the applications used, how many clients will be connecting to access points in particular areas. A proper site survey report serves as a guide for a wireless network design / installation and should provide detailed information that addresses coverage, interference sources, equipment placement, power considerations and wiring requirements.

Another type of wireless survey that we carry out is called a Predictive Wireless Survey (or Virtual Wireless Survey) and we use the software tools from Ekahau and AirMagnet. This type of survey can be carried out in cases where clients have a greenfield site or are building a new facility e.g warehouse, office extension, school or hospital and just require a survey to determine the quantity of access points required to help estimate costs for a wireless solution.

CAD drawings or JPG Floors maps must be imported into the software. These drawings are then calibrated with scale information. Walls, windows, elevator shafts, and other building boundaries causing Radio Frequency (RF) attenuation are drawn.  The output from this survey is an estimate of where the access points should be placed to give the required coverage and bandwidth.

The outcome of this survey is a ‘guess’ as to the number of access points required and their estimated location in the building.It should be noted that Predictive Wireless Surveys are not recommended for many latency sensitive applications such as Voice over WLAN and Real Time Locationing Systems.