Author: Dave Norwood
In the past people have had old-school wireless site surveys done. These include a really fat report, inches and inches thick… which costs thousands and thousands of dollars. It would show in-depth heat maps, channel maps, interference maps, photographs of where they should install access points, and many other documents (many of them “fluff” in my opinion).
Today, a full site survey normally isn’t needed in most environments. At Trusted Network Solutions, we offer a free or very inexpensive Wireless Assessment. We use an off-line tool to get us 90% there and the intelligence in modern access points get us the rest of the way. Most of the time we don’t have to do a site survey at all, we are able to input the floor plans and a little information about the building and our off-line tool kicks out a valid heat-map. The only time a ‘mini-site-survey’ is needed, is when we have a challenging environment such as a hospital or other environments with a lot of interference. In those cases we just spot check the areas of concern and still don’t need to spend the time and expense of a full site survey. Thus saving clients money and time in setting up the finished product.
One other recent development on WiFi- In the past we were concerned with coverage (do we have signal in every corner of the building). Now we are more concerned with density (can we handle the bandwidth needs of so many mobile wireless devices). Always remember that WiFi is a shared media (like a hub). If an access point can support 300Mb/s, that is not per user, it is divided up between all the users on that access point. Our wired networks are switched, meaning that each user gets their own 1000Mb/s connection in a gig network. So in a high density wireless environment each user may get only a small fraction of what they get when plugged into the wired network.
Disclaimer: So I don’t get any hate mail, I’m not saying a full site survey is never needed or totally useless. I’m just saying that in my experience, many times they are not needed with current tools and technologies.