Wireless Network Surveys

How Wireless Network Surveys Help You Increase Performance, Reduce Latency, Improve User Experience

By Keith Heckel Jr., Pre-Sales Solutions Engineer at Aspire Technology Partners

Following the “Enterprise Exodus” of the pandemic, employees, customers and other on-site visitors are encouraged to return to what may not always be a familiar place. Refreshed workplaces accommodate a new style of working. Newer employees and business partners hired straight from school may never have been to the office in the first place. And everyone wants to consume your enterprise network the same as they did while working remotely – using BYOD mobile phones, tablets and notebooks while simultaneously accessing video calls and streaming multimedia content.

New Wireless Solutions Require New Architecture

In addition to increasing user requests, wireless technology continues to improve to meet operational needs. Innovative solutions like Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E provide greater data optimization, bandwidth, security and capabilities for connected devices. All of which is meaningless without a proper network design.

How can you know if your wireless network is up to the task of supporting new users, devices, technologies and applications?

A Wireless Network Survey can provide you with the data validation necessary to ensure a high-performance, low-latency, and improved user experience. Whether you are planning a new network for a new space or expanding your existing network to meet new requirements, a Wireless Network Survey is a strategic investment in getting your wireless network up and running the first time correctly. And it’s achieving optimal performance without wasting time, effort and budget.

Wireless Network Surveys: Predictive, Passive and AP-on-a-Stick (APoaS)

We use three types of Wireless Network Surveys, each designed to provide a wireless network blueprint for our customers’ enterprise environments and mitigate any risks associated with the deployment or expansion of the network. Each of these can stand alone as its own survey, but we have found that when used in combination, they provide a powerful way to predict, deploy, measure and validate purpose- and location-built wireless enterprise environments, whether it’s a few floors in an office building, an entirely new warehouse and office campus, or a busy and expanding healthcare facility.

A purpose-built wireless network might be what you need, for example, on the floor of your new warehouse near the North Jersey ports to enable pick and pack shipments without requiring operators to run to the end of a long aisle to connect to Wi-Fi. A location-built wireless network might be what you need, for example, in your new non-contiguous office space in a Morristown, New Jersey professional building that hosts multiple tenants – all with their own Wi-Fi networks.

Here are three types of surveys that are ideal for your perusal:

Predictive
This virtual network survey incorporates an accurate floor plan of your space, data access needs, and expected employee and visitor headcounts to develop a model for deploying APs. The floor plan files supported include JPG, DMP, PNG, GIF, PDF, or SVG. If we collaborate with your architect, we can often directly incorporate their DWG files into our tool. We can then create a network architecture diagram based on your office floorplan, the type and thickness of building materials used, the height of ceilings and walls, the number of individual offices, and so on. The amount of time it takes to develop and produce a Predictive report can vary based on the size of the location, the number of floors and other variables. Our tool generates an accurate map based on the source data supplied by the Client. A Predictive Wireless Network Survey is often the best type of survey for a new or expanding location, especially when you conduct the survey early in your planning and construction process.

Predictive Survey Use Case:
A Client is looking for a wireless design for two floors in their new building, but construction has not started yet. They have both their business requirements and floor plans for the new floors. We take the floor plans and load them into our Site Survey tool and start to draw in the obstacles on the floor. We then start to place access points on the floor plan where we think that they should be placed. Based on the output from the program, we can move access points to the best possible location. We then generate a report and Bill of Materials. The information can be given to the General Contractor, who can start running cable to the appropriate locations.

Passive
This is a hands-on, boots-on-the-ground wireless network survey of your existing enterprise environment. It often requires more coordination with your internal teams, such as providing an engineer with appropriate access to hospital examination rooms, operating theaters, student dorm rooms, and busy classrooms and labs. Like the Predictive survey, the Passive survey also looks for ways to optimize your wireless network for the traffic, bandwidth and applications you anticipate will be deployed. The amount of time it takes to develop and produce a Passive report can also vary based on the size of the location, the number of floors and other variables. A Passive Wireless Network Survey is often the best type of survey when troubleshooting or expanding an existing location.

Passive Survey Use Case:
After troubleshooting remotely, we found that a client was having wireless issues in certain areas of their warehouse.   The Client has accurate floor plans that list the location of all the racks and other obstacles. After planning out access to the facility with the Client, an Aspire engineer comes on-site and begins to walk the warehouse floor with our Site Survey software. The engineer walks as much of the facility as possible, grabbing as much data as possible while on-site. Once the walkthrough is complete, the data is brought back to the office and analyzed. After analyzing the survey data, we find coverage gaps and interference within the warehouse. A report generated by the Aspire engineer lists the steps needed to remediate the issues. An additional engagement might be necessary depending on the type of work required.

AP-on-a-Stick (APoaS)
The APoaS is our most accurate survey tool for studying a new or existing environment to determine whether and where to locate or relocate access points and antennas in your network. Our engineers walk around your building or campus and deploy a mini network on a tripod or other stand that lets us change the height of the AP and antennas and determine signal gain and loss in any area of your network. Our engineers will then generate a report that shows what the wireless connectivity will look like within that particular coverage area. We like to think of the APoaS in conjunction with either a Predictive or Passive survey as the Gold Standard when developing a report. It verifies any predicted network configuration or physical change to the wireless network. In short, the APoaS survey checks all the boxes to validate before and after you build out your network.

AP on a Stick Survey (APoaS) Use Case:
A Client’s existing wireless deployment was not designed to meet the new business requirements and standards. After loading the floor plans of the area into our Site Survey software generates a predictive survey with the approximate new access point locations. The team then coordinates access to the new floor area. An Aspire engineer arrives on-site with the APoaS survey equipment, consisting of a survey cart and the chosen model(s) of the proposed access point. The Aspire engineer then raises the access point up to the predictive survey’s recommended location and then starts to walk the surrounding area to grab data. He continued this action until all the suggested access points are surveyed. The data is brought back to the office and analyzed to determine where the best possible locations should be. After the locations are confirmed, we generate a report for the Client’s cable vendor, who can begin to run the cables to the new areas.

A Wireless Network Survey is an investment in your network before, during and after you have deployed your networking hardware. Before deployment, it can guide the type and location of your APs, antennas, and power levels. After deployment, you can use a site survey to troubleshoot problems – or validate your success in creating and managing your organization’s highest level of optimized network traffic. The result is a more robust network, greater user and connected device access, mitigated wireless network issues and greater accuracy in your network design for greater functionality and business support.

Are you interested in increasing the performance of your wireless network? Contact us today to schedule your Wireless Network Survey.

Aspire Technology Partners is a Cisco Gold Integrator and Gold Provider engrained in solution pillars that set us apart as a true Cisco solutions provider. We are committed to the continuous improvement of expertise and skillsets around Cisco initiatives that enable us to help and guide customers in the adoption and management of technology architectures designed to transform their organization. We hold Cisco Master Specializations in Collaboration, Enterprise Networking, and Security and are one of only 25 partners in the US to receive the Cisco Advanced Customer Experience Specialization.

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