Tips on How to Conduct a Wireless Site Survey: Everything You Need To Know

Are you looking to install WiFi for your upcoming event or new business location? Are you experiencing poor or nonexistent WiFi connection in certain parts of your office while the connection is effortless in others? Do you struggle with random connection drops at your place of work? If your answer was yes to any of these questions, interference affects your wireless networks.

Over the years, WiFi has played a vital role in Canadian businesses’ overall operation, performance and success. Access to cheap, reliable, and high-speed internet connection is so critical that Canadian lawmakers made it an essential service for all Canadian citizens.

So, how can you solve the interference experienced by your wireless networks in your organization? Well, a wireless site survey is an ideal solution. Not only will this enable you to get the best performance from your wireless networks, but it is also cost-efficient and versatile enough to provide actionable insights concerning the network coverage within your place of business.

Wireless Site Survey: Definition

Also known as an RF (Radio Frequency) site survey or wireless survey involves developing and building a wireless connection that provides adequate data rates, coverage, roaming abilities, network capacity, and quality of Service (QoS) to its users. It is the process of testing for RF interference, impairs such networks’ functionality, and determines the optimum locations for installing access points (APs).

A wireless survey often includes a site visit, evaluation of floor plans, inspection of structures, application of site survey equipment, and interviews with end users and the IT department, if any. It is worth noting that the primary goal of a wireless site survey is to identify the exact number and ideal location for APs that guarantee adequate coverage.

“Adequate coverage” typically refers to the support of a minimal throughput or data rate. To conduct an effective survey, you must link the optimum performance to a valuation arrived by survey tools measurements, such as Signal to noise ratio (SNR). RF interference from other sources that can impair the functionality of the wireless LAN is also found during a wireless site survey.

The size of a facility dictates the complexity and necessity of an RF survey. For instance, a site survey might not be necessary for a tiny office with three rooms since you can place a router or a single access point anywhere in the office and provide sufficient coverage. You can probably pick a new channel and solve the issue if the access point experiences RF interference from a neighboring wireless network.

A comprehensive wireless site survey is usually necessary for large buildings, including an airport, office complex, outdoor area, warehouse, or hospital. Without a survey, customers will likely experience insufficient coverage and subpar service in some places.

How to Conduct a Successful Wireless Site Survey

Various site survey tools contribute to a successful wireless survey based on the facility where the wireless network will be installed. However, despite the installation scale, there are several steps you should follow to conduct a successful wireless survey. They include:

  • Obtain Blueprints or Maps

Get the floor plans of the facility or city maps of where the installation should take place. Evaluate the building’s rooms, walls, floors, and elevators to see if they will affect the radio signals. There are several site survey tools that you can use to import plans or illustrations in various image formats to make this step easier to accomplish. If unable to secure these tools when evaluating a building, it can be beneficial to take a digital photo of its fire escape plan.

  • Determine Ideal Access Point Locations

Depending on the power and cabling of the building, check the ideal locations to place APs. Note that access points should be away from concrete and metal boundaries. They should also be near the roof as much as possible. Remember to factor in some transmission overlap between neighboring access points (typically 25%), but also note that channel designations for access points must be spaced apart sufficiently to prevent inter-AP interference.

When choosing where to place access points, consider the various types of antennas as well. For instance, if you employ a patch antenna with considerably high strength directed within the building, it will be best placed next to an exterior wall.

  • Evaluate Existing Access Points in the Facility

It is also essential to take note of any existing mesh nodes or APs locations in the building. Determine the amount of space available between each AP and if they can support a wireless network efficiently.

You should also identify the facility’s wireless requirements to save time in not surveying pointless locations. Remember that if you can restrict the roaming zones, you might be able to survive with lesser APs and cheaper equipment.

  • Confirm the Locations of Access Points

Once you determine the total number of APs you need in the facility for adequate coverage, you can begin the site surveying process. Using site survey software, you can easily identify the best positions for APs that offer optimum signal intensity, data rate, and quality of the Signal. Generally, one access point provides sufficient coverage to areas within 100 feet of its radius.

After setting up an AP:

  1. Walk away from it to read the performance or changes in signal readings at several other locations.
  2. Analyze the SNR range and signal strength as you continue to verify more APs.
  3. Run the tests on the floors above and beneath the entry point in a building with multiple floors.

Remember that a low signal reading can be a warning of RF interference. But if you cannot find the source of interference, using a spectrum analyzer will help to describe the interference. You might need to move specific access points around and retest compromised sites according to the performance results.

  • Document the Survey Findings

Once you are confident that the location of the APs provides adequate coverage in the facility, proceed to record the results and show the location of each access point for future reference. The information is also precious to the professionals who will do the actual installation.

Are You Looking for a Reliable Wireless Site Survey Company?

Organizations require reliable wireless networks easily accessible from any location to ensure optimum performance and productivity. Compunet InfoTech has the experience and expertise to provide a thorough wireless site survey in the BC Lower Mainland region. Our team of experts is ready to provide effective solutions for maximum wireless network coverage within your vicinity.

Contact us today for more information on optimizing and securing your wireless network coverage.