The Ultimate Wireless Site Survey Checklist

What are the steps to conducting a wireless site survey for your business? Here’s our comprehensive guide.

If you’re installing or upgrading a Wi-Fi network in an enterprise, commercial, or industrial environment, it’s essential to begin with a wireless site survey. A well-executed site survey ensures that your wireless network will perform with optimal coverage and performance. Wireless surveys identify the ideal number and location of access points as well as any sources of radio interference. This is our step-by-step guide to completing a successful wireless site survey.

1. Identify Your Wireless Needs

Before performing the site survey itself, it’s important to consider your requirements for the wireless network. What is the desired speed and bandwidth? How many client devices will be accessing the network at once? How much transmit power will they have? Which generation of the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard will you be using? These are all factors to take into account before starting your survey.

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2. Obtain a Floor Plan

The next step is getting a diagram of the area your network will cover. Building blueprints are ideal, but you can use a fire escape diagram if none are available. On the floor plan, note the locations of walls, stairwells, elevators, and other elements that may block wireless signals. Many programs can import your floor plan to use as the basis for a site survey.

3. Perform a Walkthrough

Floor plans are helpful, but they don’t tell the whole story. You’ll need to do a full walkthrough of the wireless coverage area, noting anything significant that isn’t present on the blueprints. Modular walls and metal equipment racks, for example, can sometimes weaken wireless signals.

4. Evaluate the Current Infrastructure

Look out for places where wireless access points can be mounted, such as ceilings and pillars, and note the locations of the existing wired network closets and existing access points.

5. Determine the Areas to be Covered

Where is it most important that users have high bandwidth? Offices, meeting rooms, and break rooms are typically key. Is good coverage also needed in hallways, bathrooms, stairwells, and elevators? Don’t forget utility rooms that may house wireless equipment. Indicate these areas on the floor plan. By being strategic about which spaces are necessary to cover, you’ll end up with a high-performing and efficient network.

6. Decide on Tentative Access Point Locations

Based on the above considerations, come up with initial ideas for access point locations. Be sure to check the coverage range of your access points. Build in some overlap between neighboring access points to guarantee seamless roaming, dynamic load balancing and network resiliency.

7. Run a Wireless Site Survey

Here you have a few options. You can install wireless site survey software on a laptop, or you can purchase a specialized survey tool. Either way, place your wireless access point in each of the tentative locations and then walk around with the survey tool to gather data in various spots. The software will record which access point it’s connected to, the transmission rate, and signal strength and quality. The more comprehensive your walkthrough, the more useful the survey will be.

8. Refine Access Point Locations

Based on the data you’re gathering, play around with moving the access points to find the optimum locations. Experimentation at this stage will pay dividends once the network is in place.

9. Record Your Findings

Once you’ve found the most optimal locations for access points, record them on the floor plans as a guide for installation. Congratulations — your wireless network is now designed and ready to implement. Keep in mind, however, that wireless surveys should be conducted at regular intervals to maintain high performance. Radio environments can change with new wireless devices or furniture, so access point locations will need to be periodically adjusted.

As you can see, there are many steps that go into a successful wireless site survey. It’s a critically important task whose outcome affects the daily performance of your network, which is why we recommend leaving it to the professionals. Turn-key Technologies has extensive experience conducting wireless site surveys for a wide range of businesses. Contact us to get started on your wireless site survey today.

By Tony Ridzyowski


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