How to plan a WiFi deployment
When planning to deploy a wireless network, think of how many clients it is going to serve, how heavy the traffic will be, how many access points it is going to need and where exactly, how much throughput you want the network to provide. Consider the following factors for successful implementation of a wireless network for your business:
Know Your Building’s "Bones"
Before deploying a wireless network you should find out what your building is made of. Building materials like filled cinder blocks, brick, rock walls, or stucco construction are dense and can reduce the strength of your wireless signal, so you'll need a larger number of access points to ensure a fast, reliable connection. Anything that holds water, think pipes or bathrooms, can affect the range of a WiFi signal.
Balance the Load Accordingly
Smaller or medium-sized businesses usually need less than 24 access points, but bandwidth is to be considered too. The proper bandwidth helps with productivity, while the properly managed access points with according load balance are important as well. Use centrally-managed wireless controller appliances to boost network performance and save time.
When deciding on the type and number of APs to deploy consider the following:
- how many client devices will be sending and receiving traffic on each SSID at the same time;
- client devices possibilities;
- what apps the devices will use;
- users mobility on the network;
- the minimum throughput levels you want to have.
You can collect all this information by talking to site managers and to actual users of the network. The interviews can be personal or you can simply send the questionnaire to everyone.
- For new wireless deployments, you should ask people at each site to estimate the number of users — as well as the number of wireless devices — that will be active on the network at the same time. You'll need to know the types of devices and what users’ objectives are. Managers’ estimates about users and devices are usually quite accurate if they were working at this site previously.
- You may not need the exact number of visitors with wireless devices but an estimate is still worth having. Ask about their immediate requirements as well as what they think they will need in five years. Mostly you will get business objectives (shorter lines in stores) that you must turn into technical objectives (using mobile POS). Educating people about new technical solutions to fulfill business objectives plays big role in planning.
- Same questions are to be asked when replacing an old network with a new. An advantage in this case is that you can get statistics and observations on old setup. Measure activity and performance of the current network with NetSpot network monitoring tool that regularly polls, probes, and scans networks. Try to get access to remote collectors that collect data from agents running on network devices, as well as the inline appliances that monitor and analyze packets going through them.
- Now with all of the above information you can check LAN and WLAN traffic studies to pinpoint bandwidth targets for the various categories of users and traffic, as well as client devices. Also keep in mind that when an existing network needs to be replaced, most probably it had some shortcomings that needed to be eliminated — find those out and where in the building they tended to appear.
- Learn as much as you can about the wired network you are going to integrate the wireless devices with. Learn about topology and addressing scheme.