For businesses setting up their enterprise wireless network, the first and major requirement is performing a wireless site survey.
Well, think of the times when your WiFi goes down, and how that impacts your organization’s productivity! You get the gist, right?
So wouldn’t it be prudent if you could pre-plan your wireless network for a particular location? The things you should pay attention to, all that the survey report should contain, and which company to choose for the survey - let’s discuss it all.
Wireless Site Survey & What It Entails
A wireless site survey is the process of pre-planning your wireless network before setting it up in a particular location. During this process, the company you deploy will perform a survey of the site and look for key metrics like coverage, capacity and quality of service, to assess whether it meets your business requirements.
To begin with the survey, they would need a floor plan of the location that covers venue layout, spatial dimensions, and indicates structures like an elevator or a staircase that can impact the propagation of the wireless signal. This will help the company identify the access point locations, and gain a better understanding of the signal strength by creating heat maps.
The survey report, once prepared, will contain insights on:
Possible mounting locations
Description of cable paths
Scope of work for wireless network installation
Required controller hardware for management
Recommendations for configuration based on unique needs
Licensing and support requirements
Efforts required for ongoing management
Recommended access point models
A site survey usually takes between a few hours to several days, depending on your business size. Ideally, it should be done when the office is in use, employees working, and all the furniture is in the regular place. This gives a better idea of where the network is under most pressure, and if improvements are needed.
Which Wireless Site Survey To Choose
Now that you are aware of why wireless site surveys are important, the next step is to know how to choose one. There are two most prevalent types of wireless site surveys:
Predictive Wireless Site Survey - In this, the company simply suggests an access point model, based on the floor plans and your business needs. It then uses it to create a heat map with recommendations on equipment placement, and a visual representation of the propagation of wireless signals on the site.
It is more used as a sales tool than a customized survey report, and is typically free. However, if you are deploying more than 3 wireless access points (APs) at the site, a predictive survey is not sufficient.
Active Wireless Site Survey - This type of survey is suitable when you want an accurate Wifi survey for optimized connectivity. This works for both new environments with no wireless equipment in place, and spaces where the WiFi system already exists and only needs to be fixed.Given the detail and accuracy this survey entails, it is worth the hours, or even days spent in performing this site survey.
A face-off between the two will give you clarity on what suits your needs:
Predictive Wireless Site Survey
Active Wireless Site Survey
Can be done remotely using floor plans and heat mapping software
Requires an on site visit, besides sharing the floor plan and discussing other WiFi needs
Can be used to closely estimate AP placement, wireless signal coverage, and network performance
Provides an extremely accurate plan for equipment placement, wireless signal coverage, network performance, cabling and installation
Quality and accuracy are compromised
Delivered at no cost
Costs anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000 per survey
So if you are looking for an accurate survey report, active wireless site survey is the way to go. As for a more accurate prediction of the costs involved, factors such as site area, location, time taken to complete, and requirements regarding WiFi hardware, support, floor plan creation, report turnaround and your business needs will play a major role.
Is a Wireless Site Survey Worthwhile for Your Business?
One major question that still remains is if all this is worth your business. Does your business really need a site survey? Is it worth the costs you will need to pay, or the time?
For a small business which doesn’t rely on WiFi for their day-to-day operations, you probably do not need a wireless site survey. But for medium or large businesses, where WiFi is important for their day-to-day operational efficiency, it is a must.
And if your site conditions are historically unfavorable for the distribution of wireless signals, the wireless site survey becomes critical. Such cases could include:
Being located in densely populated spaces like office buildings, storage facilities, hospitals, open-floor spaces, malls, or event venues
So if you are a medium or large size business with daily WiFi needs, it is in your best interest to first have your workplace surveyed before deploying any WiFi system. An accurate prediction of the service your organization needs will protect you from costly repairs in the future. Not only will it benefit you financially, but is also better suited for your business growth and expansion needs.
Looking for a wireless site survey for your business or event needs? Trade Show Internet provides scalable solutions to meet the WiFi requirements of any event. For events too important to risk WiFi network failure, Trade Show Internet helps businesses translate their goals into a successful event WiFi deployment.