The Importance of a WiFi Site Survey
You may never have considered a WiFi survey before, but when it comes to improving network performance – or planning a new network – it’s the gold standard for providing the most accurate and all-encompassing information about your specific system and how it could be supporting your organisation better.
Before considering a survey, it’s important to understand the impact of not resolving network issues.
Understand the true impact of WiFi downtime
If you’re considering a new wireless network, you may well be experiencing WiFi downtime and signal dead spots. These are extremely damaging to your business’ processes, operations and services which will, over time, increasingly impact your revenue and profit through lowered efficiency; if your employees, clients, students, or service users cannot connect to the network, they cannot be productive.
Lack of a strong digital experience could even drive them to your competitors due to frustration and feeling like other organisations can offer a more seamless service. Many network managers compensate for poor performance with additional hardware, often spending a great deal in the process. This frequently causes more problems than it solves and we often see overlapping signal causing poor AP handovers and worse dropouts than before.
So, what do WiFi site surveys give you? We explore below what they offer in terms of actionable insights.
Every location and environment is unique, with different physical layouts, building materials, and potential sources of interference. An on-site survey allows the network engineer to assess these factors and tailor the WiFi network design and configuration accordingly, taking into account requirements of your organisation and any challenges.
Determine Optimal AP Placement
An on-site survey helps determine the optimal placement of access points (APs) to ensure adequate signal coverage throughout the desired areas. By measuring signal strength, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and signal quality at various points in the environment, the survey helps identify potential dead zones or areas with weak coverage. Experienced engineers can also take into account any expected changes to your site, and even map out AP placement off architectural plans.
Identifying Interference Risks
Interference from other wireless devices, neighbouring networks, or physical obstacles such as metals or electrical equipment can significantly impact WiFi performance for the worse. During an on-site survey, network engineers can identify and analyse potential sources of interference, such as machinery, equipment, or other wireless signals. By understanding the interference patterns, they can adjust channel selections, optimise channel bandwidth, and make configuration changes to minimise the impact of interference.
Network Capacity Planning
In some ways, everything stems from your usage requirements. An on-site survey helps assess the number of concurrent users and devices in the environment, which is essential for network capacity planning. By analysing your usage patterns in situ, the survey enables network engineers to determine the appropriate number of APs, their configuration, and the required bandwidth to support the expected user load effectively. This ensures that the WiFi network can handle the anticipated traffic without performance degradation.
Performance Analysis & Troubleshooting
During an on-site WiFi survey, the network engineer can perform various measurements to evaluate network performance, including testing throughput, latency, and packet loss to identify potential bottlenecks and areas for improvement.
By analysing these metrics in real-world conditions – and in situ – remedial adjustments can easily be made to optimise network settings, QoS parameters, and other configuration options for better performance, as well as giving engineers a breadth of information with which to design a new network.
An on-site wireless survey guarantees you are only buying the hardware you need for an optimally performing network. Remedial actions after-the-fact tend to be costly, time consuming, and not as successful as getting it right first time. It also means engineers can recommend solutions armed with more data and insight, and won’t recommend products out of budget or unable to offer the service you need.
Validation of Design/Configuration
An on-site survey helps validate the effectiveness of the WiFi network design and configuration by comparing the expected coverage and performance against the actual results. It provides an opportunity to identify any discrepancies and make necessary adjustments to ensure the network meets the desired performance goals. The best players in wireless networking should offer this as standard to ensure you’re happy with the end-result of your new solution.
Only on-site surveys can guarantee 100% coverage and a design specific to your exact requirements, challenges and budget. If an on-site survey isn’t an option, there are several other options. Remote surveys, called passive or predictive surveys, can offer great insight into your network performance, however interference and complications relating to your physical site cannot be as easily factored into your design.
Do You Need A WiFi Site Survey At Your Premises?
There are many reasons why you could be considering a WiFi site survey. From installing new wireless systems to upgrading and improving your current service, site surveys are designed to optimise coverage and performance across your premises.
Skilled technicians with the right equipment and knowledge can carefully test service across all parts of your building or site, before making recommendations to improve access for you. We always advise a WiFi site survey. Without it, we cannot offer a maximum coverage guarantee, nor can we ensure that your investment in a new network will give you the performance and flexibility you need to push your business forward.
There are also many types of site surveys depending on what your business needs – they are not a ‘one size fits all’. Whether you need to find and fix existing faults, design a new network entirely, or upgrade your current solution, a WiFi site survey should be designed around the things you need to understand. If you’re curious about the various types of WiFi survey, and which is the right fit for you, just visit out page on wireless site surveys.