How to Choose the Right Wi-Fi Survey

Wireless network performance is akin to business performance these days; productivity, efficiency, automation all rely on agile connectivity which can make or break your organisation. Consequently, it goes without saying that if you’re experiencing problems with your Wi-Fi, you can’t afford to let them go unresolved. A professional wireless survey is the best way to resolve any issues both in terms of efficiency, ensuring a thorough job is done, and also to give you certainty that your solutions won’t cause additional problems down the line.

A wireless survey needs to be conducted by a qualified professional who can draw on years of experience, industry best practice, uses the most accurate and informative tools, and can make recommendations and a fresh design based on emerging technology and industry changes. An experienced Wi-Fi engineer can use these tools and techniques to make data-driven decisions regarding your new network that remove the risk of wasted IT budget on a failed deployment, and make sure your solution responds perfectly to the needs of your organisation.

Benefits of a professional wireless network survey include:

  • Identifying coverage gaps and estimating capacity requirements
  • Resolve common configuration issues such as excessive interference, overlapping channels, poor AP handovers
  • Measure and resolve Wi-Fi interference from electronics, walls, building contents and other networks
  • Fix design mistakes such as poor AP placement in existing networks
  • Create a solid foundation for a new network design, based on a full understanding of your organisation’s requirements, environment and budget
  • Reduce costs by only purchasing necessary hardware/software, and avoid the need for additional purchases to work around issues

How should you pick the right kind of survey?

Choosing the right type of Wi-Fi survey will largely depend on the type of organisation you work for, your timescale and your budget. Our whole focus as a business is on offering a bespoke service that puts your organisation and its needs at the centre. Although you could label our surveys as either active or passive, they’re always tailored to our clients, giving you the insight you need within the right timescale, cost and convenience.

We plan a wireless survey entirely around your organisation by taking the time to get to know your requirements, problems, and business objectives. We don’t make assumptions on the type of survey you need before we fully understand why you need it, and how we can help you move towards an optimally performing network. We focus on providing services that have actionable, positive outcomes to help support your IT department and push your organisation forward, and that starts with our surveys.

What types of Wi-Fi survey do we offer?

Passive, predictive surveys

Our remote WiFi surveys rely on both your floorplans and usage insight to create a simulated version of your wireless LAN that takes variables like square footage, wall types, user requirements, applications and many others into account. We can create different Wi-Fi heat maps to create simulated designs that will deliver optimum performance, whether you’re looking to improve your existing wireless network or design a new one.

These types of survey are convenient and quick so we can get to the bottom of your network performance quickly and work towards solutions faster. They’re also a more affordable option than a full site survey with a visit from one of our network engineers.

Validation surveys

Although passive surveys are a great option for designing a new wireless network, we are predicting performance against a simulated environment. At Redway we don’t consider our job done until you’re 100% satisfied with the result, and consequently, with passive surveys we always recommend following up with a verification survey post-install to ensure your new solution is offering the predicted performance. Validation surveys help ensure the best possible performance through optimising configuration based on a live, active network that is in situ. They are an affordable way of ensuring a successful design that won’t require potentially costly fixes down the line.

Active, site surveys

Aforementioned passive or predictive surveys are best used in simple environments with little interference, low density/capacity. For many organisations, this isn’t the best way to go about designing a new network, especially in busy workplaces like warehouses or offices with lots of interference from machinery, metal, or surrounding offices. An active, on-site survey is the most accurate and informative type of Wi-Fi survey available, and is strongly advised by our engineers in these high-risk environments where predicting performance against a simulated design is harder.

Our network engineers walk the entirety of your site, capturing live data and mapping real-time performance against your floorplans. This means we can account for extenuating circumstances such as interference, prove times between APs, and pinpointing signal loss. Only an active survey will give us the ability to mimic real-life scenarios at your workplace, looking at spectrum analysis, RSSI, latency, the seamlessness of roaming and capacity checks.

An active or site survey makes installation a smoother process by eliminating surprises that take time and potentially additional costs to work around.

How long does a Wi-Fi survey take?

How long your survey takes depends on the size of your site(s), how many rooms there are, and the level of interference encountered on our engineers’ survey walk from electronics, metals, walls and building structures, contents of the building and any other networks in close proximity. A medium sized site on average takes around 1-2 days for the survey walk, and additional time for our engineers to put together a comprehensive report containing a new Wi-Fi network design. We then schedule a time to present the findings in a fully immersive and simulated WebEx.

How do we present our findings from your Wi-Fi survey?

  • We do things differently to our competitors. We deliver the results and recommendations from your survey by WebEx, giving the us the ability to demonstrate our designs. This also gives us the opportunity to go through your site room by room, floor by floor to make sure of your requirements and any details you feel we should know. This is vital in the case of passive, remote surveys.
  • We make sure a highly qualified network engineer is always on the call to go through the survey report and design in a live simulation. They can also answer any questions you may have about your wider network – outside of your wireless – from switches to security. We see our role as helping you achieve an optimally performing network – not just WiFi.
  • Our way of resolving your network issues is a 2-way conversation – a ‘non-technical’ technical discussion! We make a complex subject simple so that you never feel out of your depth when discussing your network, its shortcomings or our recommendations.

How are our surveys different to our competitors?

  • Our experience across a range of sectors means we make sure to ask questions that might not be pertinent to your daily network management, but can be catastrophic if overlooked during the design phase. Common examples we come across are factoring in additional capacity in school halls for exam periods, or specific AP placement in storage areas where interference fluctuates due to stock movement.
  • We pride ourselves on being vendor-neutral Wi-Fi specialists who focus on fully understanding your organisation’s requirements and resources before recommending a solution. We turn this understanding into a design that responds to your needs, before recommending products. We don’t have preferred partners; we match your organisation and its requirements with the right solution – not the other way around.
  • We don’t view surveys as a ‘one and done’ service, whether you’re designing a new network or fault-finding and fixing an existing one. Our goal isn’t to install or improve your wireless network and walk away – we want you to be happy with your solution for its entire lifetime. We recommend a Wi-Fi survey at least once a year to keep your network performing optimally, ensure it is adapting to fit how your organisation is changing, and keep you up to date with the latest technology. If you’d like to know more about our management services, take a look at our network support packages.

What if you have questions about your wider network infrastructure?

Your wireless network is only part of the wider picture. As your network gets increasingly complex, you may find that a broader understanding of product performance and longevity is helpful, from switches to cabling. This is where our network audits come in. These audits look at your entire network, and provide an in-depth assessment of your hardware, configuration, architecture and security, enabling you to see clearly where your current network is not giving the performance you need.

As with our wireless surveys, these are performed by our highly qualified network engineers, giving you a comprehensive report that in-house staff may not have the time, resource, experience or equipment to produce.

Rest assured, we don’t put pressure on you to revamp your entire IT infrastructure all at once. Our network audit reports are produced on a ‘traffic light system’ basis with immediate, medium term and long-term actions. Find out more about our network audits.