Providing great WiFi can make a big difference to a business, it's no longer a "nice-to-have" option for many businesses - particularly the hospitality and retail sectors. WiFi is now a mission critical networking component that not only helps to keep organisations ahead of the competition, but it also maximises user productivity and gives the intangible perception that the business is forward-thinking and modern, willing to invest in technology to get the best results.
In response to the growing demand of BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) in the workplace and the ever growing number of devices that use wireless - the "Internet of Things", WiFi standards have evolved from the early, 1997 standard of 802.11-1997 where data rates were a mere 1-2 Mbit/s, through the heady days of 802.11b (up to 11Mbit/s), 802.11g (up to 54Mbit/s), via 802.11n (up to 600Mbit/s) and 802.11ac (up to 3.4Gbit/s) to the latest iteration of the standard - 802.11ax (now commonly known as WiFi6) with eye-watering data rates of up to 10Gbit/s (though it isn't quite there, yet).
As the technology evolves, so too does the tools to manage it. From the original "fat" access point where businesses would manage each AP independently - a massive time-consuming process, and fraught with numerous issues - to the now-common multi-mode access point giving administrators the choice between independently managing each AP for smaller, single area or AP deployment, or centrally via a hardware controller for larger deployments. There's also a third option now. Networking as a Service (NaaS), otherwise known as "Cloud Networking" giving the ability to manage an entire installation, regardless of geographic location, from a single interface - the "single pane of glass".
Wireless networking is a continuous evolution of technology:
- Ever increasing data rates, supporting more users, devices and mission critical, bandwidth-intensive applications
- Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology for predictable wireless coverage and reliable connectivity
- Next generation wireless providing investment protection to support emerging mobility applications
- Choice of on-premise or cloud control
Deploying wireless networks can be fraught with difficulties ranging from AP positioning to provide the best possible user experience, to minimising outside interference from devices that operate on the same frequencies. The term "wireless survey" encompasses all types of survey - predictive, on-site, validation and audit - all of which we offer using the latest generation of analysis software and hardware. There are a number of questions that need to be asked, and answered when considering a wireless network.
- What devices are primarily going to be using the WiFi? Smart-phones (iOS / Android), PDA's and laptops all have varying eccentricities such as only supporting 2.4GHz or only having a single spatial stream
- How many devices: knowing an upper limit, even if it is an estimate, is useful in building an expansion overhead in any wireless design. This ensures that the WiFi will operate efficiently and reliably at all times.
- What applications: Just because an AP can support up to a certain number of clients, it doesn't mean that it'll handle them all streaming HD or 4K video! Even an over-estimate of what applications could be used by each wireless device can give network admins a well-deserved break.
Correct design and planning not only saves time later on, but it can also save money!
Using the latest generation of Wi-Fi analysis software, our predictive site survey provides a detailed overview of the site and the expected network performance, the likely hardware requirements and the best possible locations for the access points to provide consistent coverage. All that is needed is a detailed set of site plans, we do the rest.
While a predictive survey can provide reasonably accurate results, an on-site survey - commonly known as an "AP-On-A-Stick" survey - adds to the design phase by providing real-world data. After all, wireless signals can be interrupted, diffracted or reflected by a number of materials that may, or may not, be present in the construction of the building.
Our engineers utilise the latest generation of survey analysis software and hardware to gather the most accurate data possible. Used in conjunction with a predictive survey, the data can highlight areas where performance is optimal, as well as providing recommendations for additional hardware, the hardware placement and on-going maintenance.
Using the same industry leading analysis tools and software that designed the Wi-Fi network, our engineers aim to seek out and mitigate (wherever possible) any sources of network interference or poor performance.
Once the physical installation is completed, our engineers will then re-attend to validate the wireless network. This ensures that the performance expected throughout the initial predictive and on-site surveys is met. Quality checking of this kind is a crucial part of wireless network planning and deployment as it can identify potentially troublesome and costly issues before any decisions are made, which may cause disruption or be expensive to correct later down the line.
There is little worse than investing a great deal of time, effort, and money, into something, only to find that the quality or performance falls short of expectation. Sometimes, wireless networks can develop - among other things - connectivity, coverage or authentication issues, areas of limited or zero coverage or increased interference, all of which will inevitably result in a poor end-user experience and can be a headache for your IT staff to remedy.
At each stage, all data collected is presented in a detailed report, complete with recommendations, our expert advice and suggested options.
For more information or to arrange a survey, please contact us