Small business owners realize how much more influence wireless local area networks (WLAN) have on every day of our lives now and how important it is to create the perfect working environment. With NetSpot planning tool it is quite easy to plan, configure, and deploy a wireless LAN.
To start the wireless planning right, you'll need to set the coverage and capacity goals, create a predictive model that calculates how many access points (APs) you'll need and what their ideal placement should be, verify the accuracy of the WiFi planning predictions with the help of a manual site survey, and be ready to adjust as you go.
A good WiFi network plan is supposed to answer these questions:
With NetSpot WiFi planning tool the aforementioned questions can be answered pretty precisely by creating a predictive design.
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:
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.
With all the information that you now have about network goals and user categories, it is time to use a planning tool to estimate the number of access points needed and the correct placement for them.
The WiFi planner will estimate the optimal number of access points and will map the effective placement of the points based on the size of the covered area, types of APs that you have, the type of coverage, etc. You'll be able to see the power levels of transmission and reuse patterns for the channel for both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands.
The map is very visual and helpful, you can simply drag the access points on the map to see what positioning gives you better coverage.
Now that you know how many WLAN access points your network will need, decide on the power requirements to support these points, typically 15 watts or less. Depending on the size of a business, the requirements will differ. Consider power injectors option — they can be placed anywhere along the line within around 300 feet and will spare you the need for an external AC adapter.
WiFi Network Security and Safety
When a WiFi network is not secured, anyone can connect and use it. Keeping your wireless network restricted to authorized usage only is important when it is a business network especially. Do your best to avoid using obsolete protocols like WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy).
There are modern and secure options like WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2. A higher safety measure is to use the strongest available encryption for access points — AES 256 bit encryption.
Use a Wi-Fi planning tool to do predictive site surveys, which will help with access points placement plus decide on which power levels to set according to the data collected at the interviewing stage. Note that a predictive site survey won't count the neighboring WLANs co-channel interference, and the existence of electromagnetic signals from neighboring non-WiFi devices. To know more about these RF signals, a manual site survey is to be done.
The manual real-time site survey will show you how accurate your predictive survey was within the architectural and RF environments. With all this data combined you have all tools to design a better WiFi network that will meet and exceed the expectations.
Keep the following tips in mind when performing a manual site survey:
With all the data you collected and analyzed you have enough means for designing the wireless network.
Even if you have developed quite a good eye and can predict where the access points will go, it may not be a good plan for a large network that will be using multiple routers and may spread out to several floors of the building. In such case it is better to make precise calculations and develop a solid WiFi network design. The best part — you don't need tens of routers to plan any size of WiFi network — one is enough!
WiFi network planning tools generally work like this: load the floor plan, set the scale of the plan, and perhaps define wall materials on the floor plan. With this data a software app will be able to estimate how far Wi-Fi signal can travel in each direction of the plan.
This is how you plan and set up a new network with NetSpot WiFi planning site survey tool: start a new project and define your survey zone, place your hotspot in the designated location, take several samples, create a new zone snapshot, move on to another location and take samples there.
Once done with the whole space, merge your survey snapshots and they will appear as one complete project just as if you were measuring an existing network with multiple access points in place.
By performing WiFi network planning site survey with NetSpot WiFi planning tool, you'll get the most precise data for the most efficient hotspot placement that meets and exceeds coverage and capacity requirements.
This WiFi network planning site survey takes all important factors into consideration including the existence of neighboring WLANs, adjacent and co-channel interference, and the existence of electromagnetic signals from non-WiFi devices, which can affect the SNR of devices on the WLAN.
Some helpful tips to keep in mind when making a predictive WiFi design:
Once you are done with your off-site design, time to do the pre-deployment and post-deployment surveys on site with NetSpot WiFi planning tool to ensure the best result is achieved.
Ready to go online? Learn how to avoid some of the common wireless network perils:
This Access Point Worked at Home
Some wireless devices designed for home use may not be suitable for business environment, especially if the business is large. Home access points may cost cheaper but they were not made for a space bigger than a small home office and are usually meant for single deployments.
Add Access Points
The optimal locations for access points may not turn out to be the easiest ones. And while a wireless site survey is ideal, it may be costly for small businesses. The access point challenge can be solved with the help of one of the following approaches:
Stay on Point
Once you set everything up it is easy to become unconcerned. However you should keep in mind that technologies evolve quickly as well as hackers' possibilities. Keep your small business safe and unexposed to security risks, keep up with what's going on with the wireless market and where the technology is headed. Staying ahead of any possible risks will save time and money.
Leave Room to Grow
When you build a WLAN, don't just think about current needs, try to think about the future of your network, and prepare to grow with the technology. An advantage of wireless structures is that they are relatively easy to rearrange. Try to think through the business goals and needs in the future — choose the equipment and configuration accordingly.
A wireless network is no doubt an important asset to any business, but as with everything else you should always consider the objectives, limitations, the potential benefits as well as possible problems. Being aware of both advantages and disadvantages will keep the efficiency on the higher level and will make your wireless network a valuable asset to a successful business plan.
Estimate how many clients are going to connect to the deployed network, how much traffic is it going to need, and size up your space to see how many access points you might be installing.
To perform a WiFi site survey, use a WiFi planner tool like NetSpot. It can help you estimate the optimal amount of access points and will map out their efficient placement. The visual map is very helpful as you'll be able to drag the access points and see how their positions affect your wireless coverage.
A manual site survey benefits you in many ways: with the data collected you can easily create a better wireless network that will meet and exceed the expectations. When performing a manual site survey, keep the following in mind: