802.11ac Wireless: How to Care for Your Business Foundation
A good wireless network is the foundation of every business and organization. With our reliance on technology becoming more prominent by the second, the importance of a secure, fast and down right good wireless network is the key to successfully running a business. You can have the latest in mobile, medical and computing technology, but if your wireless network can’t handle the load of all that traffic, you’re basically throwing money down the drain. Like the old expression, “lay the tracks before you send the train;” you need to sort our your wireless network before you even think about spending your IT budget on any other software or technology system.
Your wireless network is the fuel that keeps all the other aspects of your business moving; overload your bandwidth, and you’re going to run out of fuel to run your hardware and software. So how to you make sure your’re getting the most out of you wireless solution and how do you maintain that solid foundation? The answer is surveys.
Wireless surveys are the only real surefire way to know exactly how to build your most optimized network in your unique situation. Surveys will tell you where to place APs and tell you how your network interacts with others in the area. Site surveys help you plan and design your wireless network and involves analyzing the building floor plans and using site survey tools like sensors.
The first thing a wireless survey does is determine where to put the access points. You don’t want to just place access points where they fit or where they appear to be evenly spaced. It’s a waste of money and resources to stick extra APs in places where the signal is weaker as a quick fix. The remedy may be that a certain location isn’t a good place for an AP and that moving it slightly will get you more coverage. Putting too many APs too close together can have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for; too many crossed radio waves can cancel each other out and cause the signal to weaken even further.
Surveys also help you figure out what’s going on with the networks around you. If you’re in a densely populated area, walls aren’t going to stop your signal from crossing over with the signals around you. The survey will identify which one of the three channels your neighbor is using (1,6 or 11) so you can switch your signal to the one they are not occupying. These channels allows signals to operate on different levels. If you think of your network as a building and each channel as a floor, switching to a new channel allows you to work above your neighbor instead of on top of them.
It’s also important to test you network while there are people around. Believe it or not, you network may pass with flying colors when it’s tested in the middle of the night, but too many bodies can block and absorb the Wi-Fi signal. People moving around and using other electronics like microwaves and coffee makers can affect the placement of your APs.
Most wireless solution vendors provide their own version of site surveys or are partnered with companies that do. Even if it may add a little to the price of your network, it will end up saving you money on useless APs in the long run, and it will ensure that other signals do not disrupt your network.