In a previous blog, we discussed the steps you can take to eliminate dead zones in your office or building. One of the steps we recommended was conducting a wireless site survey. Let’s take a closer look at what that means and why it’s critical for an effective network.
What Is a Wireless Site Survey?
A wireless site survey is the process of planning and designing a wireless network in order to help create a wireless solution which will meet the needs and requirements of the building’s occupants. A survey usually involves a site visit to test for Radio Frequency interference and identify installation locations for access points.
A wireless site survey can also require an inspection of the facility and building floor plans, as well as the identification of potential obstacles that could interfere with the operation of the network. Last but not least, interviews with IT management and the end users of the wireless network are important to determine the parameters of the network.
3 Types of Wireless Site Surveys
There are three different types of site surveys: Passive Surveys, Active Surveys and Predictive Modeling. The goal when deploying any of these surveys, is to gather relevant and accurate data that will help to design a wireless network that meets the needs of the users.
Passive site surveys
Passive site surveys are the fastest and easiest to complete and consist of a physical survey of the building, both interior and exterior as well as the data collection of the radio frequency readings at the access points. Radio frequency is the rate of radio signal to send and receive communication measured in hertz cycles per second. This is important because a neighbor that is operating on the same frequency may be causing a higher volume of network traffic than your network was designed to accommodate.
A passive site survey will provide some very important information and is the most inexpensive of the three. A physical walk through of the building interior and exterior as well as checking the radio frequency is critical to ensuring that all physical factors that could impact network performance are included in the survey.
Active Site Surveys
Active site surveys have the same steps as passive site surveys, and they also include connecting to the network’s access points during the survey. Connection to the network via the access points allows the surveyor to generate network traffic; measure the network performance and some other important metrics including packet loss and the data upload and download speeds.
An active site survey will ensure that the upgraded network will meet all critical requirements. This is particularly important for retail locations and other businesses that have extensive security requirements.
Active site surveys are more expensive to conduct and most likely need to take place during business hours; a requirement which could cause some inference with the operation of the customer’s business. They do however, provide information that cannot be obtained with a passive site survey.
Predictive site surveys
Predictive site surveys do not include any information from physical visits. A predictive site survey uses a software package to simulate not just the construction of the building but also floor plans, offices, conference rooms, cubicles, walls, windows and even filing cabinets and other large objects.
The software will then take all of these factors into account and create a prediction of the number of locations of access points and where each one should be located in order for the network to meet required coverage and performance.
Predictive modeling does not require an onsite visit, but if possible; a passive site survey should also be conducted to ensure that all critical information is included in the network model.
Choosing the Best Site Survey for Your Network
Each type of site survey has its own benefits. Choose the one that best addresses your network needs as well as your building type and business operations. This will also help you avoid overspending on an expensive survey that you didn’t really need. If you’re still unsure, contact a professional IT Services company for help.
They can provide guidance on which site survey is best and can ensure that the survey you choose is performed quickly, easily and efficiently.