August 25, 2017

Site surveys and why you need one

Whether you have an existing wireless network or are planning to implement a new one, a site survey is a critical tool for medium, large, and even small enterprise to ensure your network functions adequately.

Drew StaleyBusiness Development Manager

Whether you have an existing wireless network or are planning to implement a new one, a site survey is a critical tool for medium, large, and even small enterprise to ensure your network functions adequately.

Setting up a new network relies on site surveys to establish the best point for access, while even established networks can benefit from a site survey to identify points of interference and cater to new equipment or office redesign.

What a site survey does

Site surveys work to provide a snapshot of a proposed or current network, identifying areas of interference, crossover or dead zones. They determine the best positioning of access points (APs), and help shore up your network for future demands of additional equipment.

In the case of new networks, the site survey can help determine the minimal equipment required to provide maximum coverage, resulting in less cost for infrastructure and manpower. The survey will map out the position of access points to ensure there is minimal crossover, and cater to interference caused by building design, walls, beams, lifts or even office furniture.

In the instance of an established network, site surveys can also eliminate AP crossover and work to address areas of interference. They are particularly useful when the network has previously been deployed or grown on an ad-hoc basis, with APs added at random. Often in this case a network manager will have little idea as to where interference and dropouts are emanating from.

How a site survey works

Site surveys assess the radio frequency at a network deployment site. They look to ascertain any potential or current interference from nearby radio sources, along with analysing the physical environment of a site.

Even building materials can impact the performance of a wireless network, with besser block, columns, beams and walls all candidates for interfering with a signal.

The site survey works to determine the feasibility and best method to deploy a wireless network at your site.

Types of site surveys

There are basically three classes of site survey; passive, active and predictive.

A passive survey looks at existing points and determines areas of signal strength, weakness, interference and access point coverage. It basically involves passively listening to the radio frequency characteristics, and coverage of an existing wireless network site. Passive surveys are usually conducted prior to an existing network upgrade.

An active survey is more involved, and includes monitoring traffic, throughput, packet rates and data loss. This type of survey is usually conducted in addition to a passive survey during the new deployment of a network.

Meanwhile, a predictive survey uses software and RF planning tools to predict the coverage of APs. It works in conjunction with a site map and floor plan, and is helpful in ascertaining where APs may go while a site is being constructed or renovated.

When you need one

There are two major times when a site survey may be required – when you’re deploying a new network or upgrading an existing one. But in truth they can be valuable at any time your wireless network isn’t performing as well as it should.

About Allstar

Allstar Solutions is a leading provider of ICT support, installation and rollout. We are specialists in the field of network site surveys to deploy new networks, upgrade existing infrastructure or troubleshoot networking issues. You can learn more about our site surveys here, or contact us directly for further advice.