Wi-Fi Site Surveys – Validate Your Wi-Fi Design

You could have the most expertly designed Wi-Fi network, but without a Wi-Fi Site Survey, how will you know it will actually work as intended?

When it comes to designing and installing a wireless network, the most important thing is that it meets the demands of your users. 

The great thing about a Wi-Fi Site Survey is that can test your wireless network when it’s in the design stages and predict whether it will work or not, as well as within an already deployed network that needs some changes or additions made. 

Driving your Wi-Fi network design choices and deployment with data removes the risk of your wireless network failing to meet the needs of your enterprise. 

Gone are the days where a surveyor is laden down with computer setups, trudging around like a donkey. Nowadays it’s all the latest tech and we can carry out a Wi-Fi Site Survey with just the phone in our pocket. 

Validating your Wi-Fi network has never been more straightforward. Good news if you’re about to be designing your Wi-Fi network! Not only that, but it also makes it easier and quicker for businesses to be able to survey their Wi-Fi on a regular basis, ensuring that they continue to operate reliably. This is particularly important for anything that is business critical. 

 

What is a Wi-Fi Site Survey?

Well first things first – You might be wondering what actually is a Wi-Fi Site Survey? The purpose of a site survey is to visit the network premises and capture Wi-Fi signal and spectrum data. It also allows you to investigate the best places to mount access points and identify accessibility for necessary cabling. 

Getting a Wi-Fi site survey can test out a predictive Wi-Fi design before you deploy it on the network as well as check that any changes or additions to an existing network will work effectively. 

Why would I need a Wi-Fi Site Survey?

There are a few different scenarios where we would recommend a Wi-Fi Site Survey. 

  • Wi-Fi Design Site Survey – This survey is carried out on site before you’ve started to design your wireless network. Performing a Site Survey at this point allows you to create a predictive Wi-Fi network using data captured on the survey, including RF conditions, neighbouring networks, available/ congested channels, interference and accessibility for mounting AP’s.

     

  • Pre-Deployment Site Survey – Once you’ve designed your Wi-Fi network, you can use a Wi-Fi Site Survey to test your design and simulate the performance of antenna and access points. This data is acquired by placing an AP in the relevant location(s) and then analysing the Wi-Fi, making sure that the network would function as predicted in the design.

     

  • Post-Deployment Wi-Fi Site Survey – The role of this Wi-Fi Site Survey is to identify whether a deployed network is working as intended. That means meeting performance expectations laid out in the predictive stage of the wireless design.

     

  • Health Check Wi-Fi Site Survey – The best networks carry out regular ‘health checks’ to make sure everything is functioning as it should. This means that any changes you need to make to your network are proactive rather than reactive. Why wait until your end users are experiencing Wi-Fi problems that could produce a costly Wi-Fi outage? A Wi-Fi Site Survey at this stage can help pick up any issues with interference, coverage and capacity, nipping any potential problems in the bud.

     

  • Troubleshooting Wi-Fi Site Survey – This is the Wi-Fi Site Survey you would carry out if you were already experiencing problems. A more reactive survey in which you can identify the underlying cause of the problems your end users are reporting. You can then go back to the design stages and re-deploy your wireless network for more effective working. 

Why is a Wi-Fi site survey important to validate your wireless network after the design stage? 

 

As we said above, by carrying out a Pre-Deployment Wi-Fi Site Survey, you can test the predictive Wi-Fi design before installing it. Validating your wireless design with a site survey gives you peace of mind that the network you are deploying will work effectively. Any potential niggles can be identified, and designs can be amended before you’ve started the deployment. 

 

No one wants to have run cables and installed AP’s only to find that they work much more effectively in a different location! It’s also very handy to find out any potential causes of interference so you can take steps to avoid them. 

 

You could think of a Wi-Fi Site Survey as a bit of an insurance policy. It’s the smart way to avoid mistakes and ineffective networks, not to mention time-consuming and costly re-design processes should a wireless deployment fail. 

 

A predictive Wi-Fi design is great, but it’s not final. It’s not ready until you’ve tested your design with a validating Wi-Fi site survey. 

 

So what things would a Wi-Fi Site Survey identify to validate your wireless design?

By completing a Wi-Fi Site Survey, you would find out the following:

  • Accurate floor plans – If you haven’t set foot on site, then you are placing an awful lot oftrust in your CAD floor plan being accurate. By actually being on site and carrying out a survey, you can make sure that the distances in the design are correct and walls, stairwells and lifts are all where you expect them to be. If your whole Wi-Fi design is based on a floor plan that’s out of date, your predictive design is unlikely to fare well in the real world.

     

  • Signal attenuation and wall types – Completing a predictive Wi-Fi design using your ‘best guess’ is not really going to cut it. It’s actually really important that you know where walls are and what they are made of. Getting on site for a survey means you can check wall attenuation (ie. how much signal you are losing through the walls). Checking this information enables you to make sure that the RF measurements in your design are correct and confirms that your Wi-Fi design will work (or allow you to make the necessary changes to your design to make sure it does).

     

  • Access point locations – There is nothing quite like a Site Survey for identifying where AP’s need to be located. Carrying out the Wi-Fi Site Survey lets you check your predictive plans in a live environment. For example, checking the locations are free of obstacles (like ducting) and modifying your design if needed. It’s so important that you use this stage to test your predictive wireless design and make any changes needed to optimise it further.

     

  • Neighbouring networks – A predictive Wi-Fi design can’t know how neighbouring networks and local RF noise would affect the network. A Wi-Fi Site Survey can pick up instances of interference, and allow you to make sure your network design has peak performances and avoids neighbouring interference. 

 

What do you need for an accurate Wi-Fi Site Survey?

The Wi-Fi Site Survey is your chance to see how your network design could come to life. Really, the testing is the fun part! The most important parts of a successful Wi-Fi Site Survey are:

  1. An accurate floor plan – Make sure the measurements are correct. It’s vital that you are scaling your floor plan if you want your design and validation to be precise. Even seemingly small mis-scaling can make your plan inaccurate by many metres. Not helpful at all!

     

  2. Utilise available tech – There are lots of tools out there to help you. Using an all-in-one diagnostic measurement device can help you make sure that your design and site survey are as accurate as possible, giving your wireless network a professional result. It also helps you to carry out your Wi-Fi Site Survey a lot faster.

     

  3. What channels are you scanning? – There’s no point scanning channels you don’t care about. It’s just a waste of time. If you have no 2.4GHz access points or radios, then you don’t need to bother scanning those channels. And the fewer channels you have to scan, the faster your site survey will be!

     

  4. Make sure your data is accurate – The aim of your Wi-Fi Site Survey is to capture data that is going to either validate or help you make changes to your wireless design. Therefore, it’s imperative that you are capturing data accurately. If whilst walking, your path looks like you’ve walked out a window or got stuck in a wall then you need to re-establish your location. Otherwise the data you are capturing won’t be accurate, or helpful!

     

  5. Measure attenuation on both sides of the wall – To identify how much signal is being lost to obstacles like walls, you need to measure the attenuation on both sides of that obstacle. By measuring on both sides of the wall, you make sure that you are capturing all the data you need.

     

  6. What survey method do you need for your environment? – There are a few different survey methods so make sure you are using the one that is going to give you the most reliable data.

    Stop and Go – This is used in environments that are hazardous or particularly challenging. This one collects the least amount of data, but it’s important that you remain aware of your surroundings.

    Continuous – Lots of clicks on this one! It’s the traditional means of collecting Wi-Fi Site Survey data, but requires lots of attention at all times. You must click when you start, turn, change pace and of course, when you stop!

    Autopilot – This one is the Wi-Fi expert’s favourite. It’s quick and accurate. Using this one means you don’t have to manually click as you are walking through the site map. All you need to do for accurate results is make sure that the first calibration is accurate.

    GPS – If you are working outdoors with no key reference points then this Wi-Fi Site Survey is a great option. All you’ll need is a GPS-enabled mobile device with a SIM card. 

Trust the Experts

If Wi-Fi Site Surveys have got your head in a spin, then why not leave it to the experts? Our trained Wi-Fi professionals here at Geekabit are experts when it comes to wireless site surveys. 

Operating out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff, our Wi-Fi experts are on hand to assist with all stages of Wi-Fi deployment – From the initial design and Pre- and Post-Deployment Site Surveys to Health Checks and full installations. 

Get in touch with our friendly team today and we’ll be more than happy to help. Or head to our website to find out more about the Wi-Fi Site Surveys Geekabit have to offer. 

 

How to Give Your Wi-Fi Network a Health Check

You might think that once you’ve got your Wi-Fi network all set up and running, then that’s it done. But it’s not! Having a reliable wireless network involves ongoing maintenance and health checks to make sure that it’s performing at its optimum level.

There are plenty of variables in a wireless network that could change. Things like user demand or changes in the radio frequency that could have an impact. Seemingly simple things like rearranging your office furniture, onboarding new employees or using more applications requiring bigger bandwidth can all be negative factors affecting your Wi-Fi network.

Ongoing, regular surveys can help you catch these changes before they start to cause you too many problems.

So what do you need to do to keep your wireless networking functioning effectively?

 

Monitor New Client Devices

Just as when you are in the design and planning stages, it’s vital to know the number of users that are connected at any one time, and what devices they are connecting to the network with. Your network performance depends on this!

This could likely change with company growth or if your business has seasonal staff where connections peak and trough.

It’s also worth bearing in mind how old the devices are. Older laptops, for example, won’t work so well with today’s modern networks. And vice versa!

You can counteract this by semi-regularly updating your devices to align with your network.

Likewise, if your network was originally deployed a while ago, without being monitored or updated it will fail to work with modern devices to their potential.

You need to also monitor the applications being used and ensure that the bandwidth matches the demand. Organisations like schools that now have a plethora of laptops connecting wirelessly to the school network need to have strong, reliable Wi-Fi. Hospitals also have high bandwidth demand with the ‘workstations on wheels’ that are now prevalent.

The more end users you add to your network, the more bandwidth you will need.

In simple terms – Make sure you are monitoring new client devices. Make it your business to keep track of how many devices are connecting to your network and make sure you can meet the Wi-Fi demand consistently. Your business operations depend on it.

App Usage and Progression

As we all know, technology is constantly evolving. Device manufacturers are always striving for the fastest, most powerful offering to stay ahead of their competitors.

This means that apps and software also move fast to keep up. This constant evolution means that you need more and more data with every update. Thus, the requirements of your Wi-Fi network are likely to change and be modified accordingly.

Wireless is often the first choice – If not the only choice! So you need to make sure your business Wi-Fi offering is up to scratch.

 

Physical Changes in the Office Landscape

You might not think too much about rearranging the office, but this could have a significant impact on your coverage area and how your access points function.

Tweaks like going from open plan to individual offices (or the other way around) will change the way your AP’s perform in your office space.

Interior walls (or lack of them) will affect the radio frequency and how it attenuates. You might be thinking, surely removing partition walls to make an open plan office couldn’t cause Wi-Fi problems. Ut actually it could! The RF will be able to travel further without any attenuating interior walls, meaning it could start contending with other channels and cause interference.

Any physical changes in your office environment need to be surveyed to see if and how it will affect how your Wi-Fi network functions. This means you can make the necessary adjustments before problems arise.

 

Identify Common Causes of RF Interference

Following on from physical changes in your office environment, you need to also be aware of other possible causes of RF interference.

Once possible source of interference on your Wi-Fi network could be noise from neighbouring networks. Other AP’s in range of your coverage area could cause RF interference, especially if their power levels are turned up.

Wi-Fi interference is when you have AP’s that are operating on the same or adjacent frequencies. This can cause interference or contention on these channels, or Overlapping Basic Service Set (OBSS). If your network is experiencing this type of interference, you could see your ability to send or receive data significantly reduce or even completely disabled.

You can also get non–Wi-Fi Interference from devices that use other radio networks. Things like microwaves, monitors, blue tooth or surveillance cameras could all cause interference problems.

 

Your Business Depends on your Wi-Fi Network

If you’ve gone to the effort of designing and planning the optimum network for your business, then don’t waste that work by not monitoring and maintaining it.

Even the best networks will need tweaks and changes over time, to make sure it can keep up with the demands of new users and modern devices.

Regular monitoring or ‘Wi-Fi health checks’ can help identify problems while they’re still small – Allowing you to get them sorted out before they start causing your business serious issues. Don’t wait until the IT department are inundated with calls from frustrated, unproductive employees.

If you think your wireless network is in need of a health check, why not give us a call here at Geekabit? Our wireless experts have the knowledge and expertise to diagnose and solve your Wi-Fi problems, improving the reliability and functionality of your business Wi-Fi.

Why Is Network Design So Important for Reliable Business Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is no longer a ‘like to have’ when it comes to successful business planning. It’s vital for businesses to have strong, reliable Wi-Fi in order to business processes to run smoothly.

No matter what industry your business is in – Wi-Fi is crucial. Gone are the days when everything could be wired and cabled. Whether you run a warehouse, a hospital or operate out of an office; Your business needs to run wirelessly.

Organisations tend to have an armada of laptops, tablets, smartphones and other IoT devices that require effective Wi-Fi.

So if the need for a good Wi-Fi connection is so prevalent, why are we still seeing so many businesses struggle with their Wi-Fi network?

The requirements can be demanding, and to be successful a network needs to meet those demands. Plug-in-and-go routers aren’t going to cut it unfortunately. Your business network needs more!

So how can you ensure that your network can be relied upon by your employees every day, so they can do their job productively and efficiently?

It all comes down to the design.

What do you need to consider when designing a Wi-Fi network?

Designing your wireless network gives you the chance to translate your business needs into a Wi-Fi network that will work for you and meet those needs.

So what do you need to consider?

Capacity

You need to think about how many devices will require a Wi-Fi connection. You need to be asking questions like how many employees you have, are there people in addition to employees that will need to connect, how many devices are each of these people likely to have and what type of device are they.

Getting to know how much traffic you will likely have will help you to determine how much bandwidth you need in order to meet consumption needs.

If you don’t get the capacity planning right, you could end up with very unhappy employees suffering with slow internet speeds and an intermittent connection. Neither are conducive to a productive work environment!

Something else to consider is how the capacity changes as you move around your site. Do some locations have a higher capacity demand than others? This information will help you to design a network where access points are distributed according to requirements.

Capacity isn’t just important during the planning stage either. It’s something you will need to monitor so that you can identify when more devices are trying to connect and adapt the network accordingly.

 

Coverage

We’ve talked about capacity and how many devices are likely to connect. Now it’s time to talk about where those users need that connection.

Identifying your coverage area allows you to optimise the distance between your wireless transmitters. Getting this right means that you’ll have the right signal strength for the Wi-Fi enables devices trying to connect.

Coverage is split into two – Primary coverage and Secondary coverage. Interweaving the primary coverage area of your transmitters with the secondary coverage of necessary overlaps means that your end users will be able to roam throughout your site without their connection dropping out on their device.

The idea is to find the perfect balance in the number of AP’s you deploy. Too many AP’s not only costs you more money on installation but can also cause interference. Not enough AP’s and you won’t be able to meet your coverage needs.

 

What is the Least Capable, Most Important Device?

It’s important to identify what device is most business critical – And whether that device poses a risk to the rest of your network. You might find that a warehouse scanner, or even an employees laptop, is critical to the needs of the business, but is also the oldest and least technologically advanced device on the network.

You need to identify this device (or devices) and make sure that your network will ensure the device(s) stay online. You can do this by checking the manufacturer specifications and make sure these align with your network offering.

 

Are there any Obstacles on site?

It’s a good idea to walk around your site and identify any potential obstacles to your wireless signal. Sometimes having an actual walk-around sheds more light on potential problems than just looking at a simple floor plan. You need to know exactly how the radio frequency will behave in your specific environment.

Consider things like high or exposed ceilings, columns, large items of furniture, lift shafts, stairwells and even signage.

You should also look to see where access points could be easily installed, and any areas where this would not be possible. This also goes for cabling.

Mitigating the Effects of Wall/ Door Material on Signal Attenuation

In order to mitigate the risks of attenuation, you need to understand what materials could pose a problem to your Wi-Fi signal.

When you are designing your Wi-Fi network, it’s imperative that you identify the physical characteristics of your environment and understand how this can impact your wireless signal.

The amount of signal strength absorbed by walls or doors depends on what they are made from. A rough guide to this would be:

  • Bookshelf – 2dB
  • Drywall – 3dB
  • Exterior Glass – 3dB
  • Solid Wood Door – 6dB
  • Marble – 6dB
  • Brick – 10dB

Having this information specific to your site means you can design a wireless network that works really well.

Call the Experts

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, then call in the experts. That’s what we’re here for! We have all the necessary technology to survey your site and then design and plan a wireless network specific to your business needs. Give our Wi-Fi experts a call today to see how Geekabit can help.

 

A Simple Guide to Help You Plan Your Marina Wi-Fi

Most businesses make it their mission to provide their guests and customers with a reliable wireless connection – It’s vital for a successful guest experience across industries.

If you are in the process of upgrading your marina site, then the dependability and consistency of the available Wi-Fi should be part of your upgrade plans.

The optimum Wi-Fi offering should enable near continuous connectivity throughout your site. It’s imperative that guests moving around your marina don’t have their connection drop out.

Strong, reliable Wi-Fi isn’t an amenity that guests will compromise on. It’s become an expectation in everyday life, regardless of location or industry. Both potential and existing boating customers will want a good internet connection.

Perhaps you’re thinking that most boaters are there for leisure rather than business, so maybe a reliable internet connection isn’t the be all and end all. However, studies have shown that nearly 70% of holiday-makers within employment choose to take a smart device along with them on their break specifically to enable them to connect to work.

This is just one of the many reasons that your marina needs to be able to offer customers reliable Wi-Fi services.

So what questions do you need to be asking yourselves when starting to plan your marina’s WI-Fi network?

Here are some things to consider during the Wi-Fi Planning and Design phase.

 

Where is the ISP entry point?

You will need to consider where on your site the Internet Service Provider’s equipment is. Where this entry point is, affects what you will need to deliver the internet to your customer device. You may need Ethernet cabling, network Power-over-Ethernet Switches and/or Wireless Access Points to get the internet service delivered from the ISP entry point to the client device.

How far away is this ISP entry point from the area you need to cover?

Knowing this distance will help you work out the coverage area and what equipment you will need to get the internet from the ISP entry point to the end user, and where best to place this equipment. It will also help you to identify the type of network devices you will require.

How much bandwidth are you receiving from your ISP?

You will need to know the amount of bandwidth you are getting from your ISP in order to work out the maximum internet speed you will be able to offer your employees, boaters and guests. The more bandwidth you have, the more guest devices you can connect to, and thus the higher the quality of Wi-Fi service you will be able to offer your customers.

Do you know how many users you are likely to have?

Having an accurate estimate of how many users / devices you are likely to have connected at one time will help you to determine how many Access Points you will need throughout your marina. The higher your average number of users, the more Access Points you will need.

Is quality of service important to you?

We are assuming that you’re doing this exercise not just to tick a box, but because you really care about the quality of the internet you’re providing to your customers. Knowing how much access you want to offer your staff, boaters and guests will help you work out how to place your Access Points. There are two main services to look at here.

The first is a Hotspot Service. This is where Wi-Fi services will only be available in specific areas. Any guests wanting to connect to your Wi-Fi services will need to go to those specific areas. These could be the clubhouse, café or other areas of recreation.

The other service would be virtually everywhere. This would include on the dock as well as their boat and throughout the entire marina.

The Access Point requirements for these services would be rather different.

Is there any likely interference from buildings?

It’s wise to consider what your buildings are made of, as some materials could be obstructive to wireless signals. Are they made of wood or concrete or metal? What about the walls, ceilings and doors? Think about how this will affect the wireless signal, and make your Access Point placements accordingly.

How far do your current Ethernet cables go?

If you already have Ethernet cables running, how far do they go? Do they go to the docks or the ends of the docks? If you already have proper, shielded Ethernet cables to your docks then continuing on a wireless service from here is pretty easy. If Ethernet cabling is something you are currently considering, then it could be worth your while doing this to the end of your docks to make further Wi-Fi deployment smooth sailing.

If you don’t have ethernet cabling to the docks, and this isn’t something you want or can do, then a secure wireless link could be the option for you. This link or wireless bridge will carry the signal on to a designated location. The devices on each side of the link or bridge are linked to another device – This could be a network switch, camera or router.

Is a surveillance system part of your marina upgrade plans?

If you are planning to implement a new network-based surveillance system or expand an existing one, then you will need to consider the bandwidth usage of your entire site. The higher resolution your surveillance cameras, the more bandwidth they will need, so do consider how clear you need the surveillance to be e.g. facial recognition, number plate visuals etc.

Surveillance systems can provide comfort and security for both staff and customers, and it’s more commonplace to see them as a part of a marina than to not. Footage from this system could provide you with evidence of liability, vandalism and theft.

How many docks do you want to provide Wi-Fi access to?

You need to work out how many docks you would like to provide with wireless internet access. Will it be some of the docks or all of them? Knowing this number will help you identify how many Access Points you will need. It will also determine where the AP’s need to be placed. You may also need additional wireless links or bridges. Knowing how many docks you are providing with Wi-Fi will also help you to work out an estimate of the average number of users at a given time using your network.

Are your boaters likely to try and connect to your network on board their boat?

You need to know whether your boaters have on-board devices that they are likely to want to connect to your network. Whether or not your Wi-Fi network is deemed successful will often be determined by the experience of your end user. If your customer suffers intermittent coverage and dead spots, then your Wi-Fi network is not doing what it’s intended for.

 

Taking these things into consideration will help you to successfully carry out your site planning. You need to know that the service you provide is enough for the demand.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, then why not leave it to the professionals? Our Wi-Fi experts have the expertise and knowledge to successfully carry out a Wi-Fi Site Survey of your marina, and then design and deploy a Wi-Fi network according to the necessary specifications.

To chat through the options for your marina, give our Wi-Fi experts a call today.

The Fundamentals of a Wireless LAN

We were going to call this blog ‘WLANs for Dummies’ but that seemed a bit harsh so we settled on the fundamentals of a wireless LAN instead.

A wireless LAN, or WLAN, might seem complicated on the surface but actually it really just follows simple laws of physics. If you can understand these and follow them, then there shouldn’t be any reason why you can’t achieve high performance and scalability for your WLAN.

If you can understand the basics of wireless physics, then you can start to plan your WLAN for a successful deployment. It will also help you to troubleshoot an existing WLAN exhibiting issues.

How Does Data Travel Through a WLAN?

First things first – Let’s look at wave properties.

Data transmits, or travels, from one point to another – e.g. between wireless access points – via electromagnetic waves. This energy travels at the speed of light and operate at different frequencies.

The frequencies of these electromagnetic waves are defined by how many periodic cycles are completed by second.

For example:

How is Frequency Measured?

As we said above, frequency is how many wave cycles are completed per second. This is measured in Hertz. A 2Hz waveform is 2 completed wave cycles in a period of 1 second.

How Does Frequency Affect a WLAN?

A phenomenon called Free Space Path Loss is something that causes signal loss when a waveform travels from one point to another. This is what affects how well data travels across a wireless network.

Different wavelengths (frequencies) experience difference signal loss. The lower the frequency, the longer the wavelength, and the longer the wavelength, the further it can travel before signal gets lost.

For example, 2.4GHz have longer wavelengths than higher frequencies like 5GHz.

How is Wi-Fi Signal Loss Measured?

We measure the energy that is associated with received wireless signals in Decibels (dB). We can also measure loss of signal in this way.

Decibels are logarithmic. On the linear domain, when you add decibels it grows exponentially and when you subtract decibels it reduces exponentially.

The 3dB rule

Every 3dB change, there is a doubling of energy (if increasing) or a halving of energy (if decreasing).

As a ratio, this would look like:

If we had the wireless signal energy at
1:10dB

Then doubling it would be
2:13dB

Remembering this rule can help with both analysing the energy associated with wireless signals as well as predicting it.
Similarly, if you add or subract 10dB, it changes by a factor of 10.

The Relationship Between Frequency and Wireless Signal

Let’s take a look at 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequencies or waveforms. 5GHz is a higher frequency, so has more wavelengths in a given time period. 5GHz has more wireless signal loss (attenuation) than 2.4GHz, and thus is better for high-density areas. 2.4GHz has less wavelengths in a given time period and is better suited for wider coverage. Bear this in mind when you are planning or troubleshooting a wireless network.

How is Wireless Signal Affected by Different Materials?

In an ideal world, you would have a clear line of sight between your wireless points. In reality, this is rarely the case and you will often find things that get in the way and stop the wireless signal from traversing effectively across your network.

Different materials will affect wireless signals and attenuation in different ways.

Materials such as concrete will cause more attenuation of wireless signal than wood.

In scenarios where wireless signals can propagate (the action of spreading) normally, there is no interference from other materials. However, there are some things that can alter the propagation of a wireless signal, causing it to behave differently and potentially become unreliable.

For example, a WLAN environment with metal surfaces may encounter unpredictability with wireless signal due to it reflecting off the metal.
Wireless signal can also be absorbed by certain materials like water or people, causing the signal to falter.

Being mindful of materials during the WLAN planning stage can help ensure the environment doesn’t hinder your wireless network and you have reliable connectivity results.

Co-Channel Interference

Different materials aren’t the only thing that can interfer with wireless signals.

Due to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frewuency bands being unlicensed, there are no restrictions on people when extending wireless networks with access points.

This means that they can become crowded as well as channels not being assigned efficiently. Both of these issues can cause co-channel interference.

When planning your WLAN it’s important to take these issues nito consideration and plan your wireless network accordingly so as not to risk problems with wireless signal later down the line.

You want your WLAN to be as effective and efficient as it can possible be, which takes planning and wireless network knowledge.

Whilst the 2.4GHz is popular due to its propagation qualities due its waveforms passing through materials like walls more easily and reaching end users at a long distance. This however has meant that its become crowded with competing devices such as cordless telephones, baby monitors and bluetooth devices. This saturation can cause problems with your wireless signal.

In comparison, the 5GHz spectrum has greater availability and relaxed transmission power giving it more flexibility when it comes to wireless networks.

The 2.4GHz band has only 3 channels without any overlap, whereas the 5GHz has 24. This is another reason why the 5GHz band is favoured for high-density WLAN environments.

Understanding Frequency Channels

To ensure you can maximise the performance and scalability of your WLAN, you need to understand how these channels operate and use that knowledge to avoid co-channel interference.

Let’s take an Access Point as an example. An AP will have a specific bandwidth through which it will transmit and receive signals to and from other points. The channel assigned to the AP will be appropriate for the centre frequency of the first 20MHz channel used by the AP.

This bandwidth is specifically the frequency range over which the data signals are transmitted. Peak transmission and power is spread over the range of that bandwidth, with it dropping off at the edges.

These edges are then at risk of meeting other nearby wireless networks and are prone to interference from the ‘noise’ of these other networks.

It’s important to use what you know about channels to prevent the reduction of wireless signal speed and loss of scalability of your wireless network.

In order to minimise interference between neighbouring access points, choose to assign them with non-adjacent channels. Following this will make it easier to scale your network. If you don’t follow this principle, you will likely encounter problems with latency and throughput.

The best way of reducing interference when assigning WLAN channels is to carry out a Wi-Fi site survey. This involves analysing the noise levels across the spectrum so you can make informed decisions for your wireless network.

Call The Experts

If this all sounds a bit complicated, then why not give us a call here at Geekabit? We have Wi-Fi expert engineers working out of Hampshire, Cardiff and London who can take care of all your Wi-Fi woes.

From Wi-Fi site surveys, to planning and installation, we’ve got your WLAN covered. GIve us a call or drop us an email to see how we can help keep you and your business connected.

4G Office Surveys – Hampshire, London and Wales

This week we spoke to a client needing a 4G office survey for their workplace, to see if 4G would be a viable internet option for their business, as well as identifying which network would be best for them.

Why would I want a 4G Office Survey?

4G broadband is an increasingly beneficial internet service provider for many homes and businesses, especially those in rural areas and places where BT Openreach cables can’t get to.

Here at Geekabit we take an unbiased approach when it comes to Mobile Network 4G surveys. Our aim is to gain an understanding of the mobile coverage on your premises and ascertain whether 4G broadband would be a good choice for your internet needs.

It is also hugely important for those who are considering moving their workforce to a new office building and need the guarantee of coverage. Even in today’s “Wi-Fi calling” world, we still need solid mobile phone coverage.

Our testing can assess any likely impacts on mobile network coverage in your office, from external factors such as wind farms and other tall buildings, to internal influences like wall composition.

What does a 4G Office Survey Involve?

Our equipment for a Mobile Phone Coverage Survey measures key performance indicators for 2G, 3G and 4G reception on various networks so you can be sure that 4G broadband is the right decision for your home or business.

The hardware we use to carry out in-building 4G office surveys uses advanced mobile network signal receiving and processing technology.

These 4G office surveys can be used to ascertain the internal mobile network coverage of your office or business premises, and identify any potential mobile network coverage problems early on before you commit to using 4G broadband for your internet provider.

There are some factors that could cause signal penetration problems (attenuation) such as different building materials and window glazing, but a 4G office survey can give you peace of mind that the 4G network you choose will be a reliable source of internet for your rural home or business.

Wired Certification through WiredScore

If you are a business landlord or even rent out a private property, carrying out a 4G survey for the premises can be extremely beneficial.

Back in 2015, the Greater London Authority launched a scheme through WiredScore – An initiative launched by the Mayor’s Digital Connectivity Rating Scheme.

This scheme gives a clear picture to tenants about the connectivity in their potential offices.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve all seen how imperative technology is – Where would we be without Zoom and Microsoft Teams? Technology plays a huge role in the success of businesses across the UK, not just London.

The capacity for connectivity in any given premises is an extraordinary marketing opportunity when it comes to landlords trying to get businesses to sign up to lease their office space. Commercial landlords and developers need to be aware of how important connectivity is to a property or premises – And a 4G office survey is a fantastic way to obtain this.

Good connectivity, especially when it comes to 4G in more rural areas, is a great asset to a business and will be top of the list of any business looking to secure new premises.

WiredScore provides the connectivity accreditation scheme to help overcome the challenge of proving your premises has the internet connection needed for a business to succeed. A WiredScore rating is a global rating scheme for digital connectivity and helps landlords to assess, improve and promote their premises.

Get in touch

If you’re struggling with wired broadband, and not getting the reliable internet connection you need in your rural business or home, then 4G could be a fantastic option for you.

It can feel like a big jump to give up on your wired broadband connection and opt for 4G – Which is where our Cell Coverage 4G survey comes in.

We can tell you exactly whether 4G broadband would work for you, and which network would be most reliable.

Relocating and moving offices comes with a raft of expense and issues which interrupts the daily workflow and output. Being confident that your team can communicate with your customers and stakeholders is a key consideration.

You can check out a previous blog of ours where we look at a few of our client case studies where 4G broadband was absolutely the best choice.

To see if 4G broadband would solve your Wi-Fi woes, get in touch with us today to arrange your mobile phone coverage survey. Let’s see if 4G broadband is the answer you’ve been searching for!

 

 

The Wi-Fi Lifecycle: How to Boost Wireless Performance at Every Stage

Managing a wireless network is a non-stop task. A wireless network is a lifecycle – It is constantly moving through the processes, and every stage gives you the chance to troubleshoot and optimise your Wi-Fi.

What is the Wi-Fi Lifecycle?

If you are responsible for deploying a Wi-Fi network and then doing the ongoing management, then you will likely be familiar with the stages you see throughout this process. It starts with the wireless network design, and then continuing maintenance, optimisation and troubleshooting, which can lead you back to those design stages. To ensure that your wireless network reliably performs at its optimum levels, you need to understand these stages and equip yourselves with the right tools.

Let’s have a look at each stage of the Wi-Fi Cycle.

Wi-Fi Design

First up, it’s design. Do not skip this step. It’s so important for your wireless network to carry out surveys and design according to the results. You likely won’t get a high-performing, reliable Wi-Fi network without doing this stage properly!

Designing your wireless network gives you the opportunity to translate the Wi-Fi needs of your business (or home) in a way that meets or exceeds all of your requirements. Do not just deploy and hope for the best – Wi-Fi is a vital first stage in any wireless network deployment.

If you’re not sure where to start, then get in touch with us here at Geekabit. Our Wi-Fi experts have all the knowledge needed to carry out a Wi-Fi survey and use the information identified to design a high-performance wireless network that provides reliable Wi-Fi for your business-critical applications. For more information on Wi-Fi surveys and what they entail, you might like to read this blog.

Network Validation

Once you’ve got your Wi-Fi network designed, taking things into consideration like walls, end user requirements, positioning, high footfall areas etc you need to validate it. The aim of this stage is to make sure that your Wi-Fi design behaves in the way you have predicted it to.

Using AP on a Stick technology, you can test out the locations for access points in your design and make sure that things like capacity and coverage are what you expected. This stage is also a bit of a safety net to catch any possible sources of interferences that didn’t pop up in your survey or design stage, for example differences in wall materials.

This stage is also vital if you want to make sure your network will be successful before complete deployment, saving you valuable time (and money) later on fixing problems. If you’re having to run new cabling, you really want to make sure that all your access points and antenna are in the best locations first.

You may find yourself returning to this stage multiple times. Perhaps you identify some potential issues with access point placing which sends you back to the design stage. You’ll find yourself re-validating those changes. Remember, this is a constant process and you will go through the Wi-Fi lifecycle time and again.

You don’t just validate post-design – You will also need to validate your network following its deployment. But hopefully, having done an initial design and validation stage, you will find your network running at its optimum performance for your end users.

Wi-Fi Optimisation

So you’ve designed your network, validated it and went ahead with deployment. Surely that’s it done? We’re afraid not! Even if your network seems to be working well and providing reliable Wi-Fi to your users, it’s something that needs constant monitoring and maintenance in order to optimise the Wi-Fi your business provides.

This isn’t a quick process or ‘box-ticked-next’ sort of stage. Continuously monitoring and tweaking your Wi-Fi network allows your to react in a timely manner to any changes. Perhaps you have an increase in staff members, or a rise in multiple device usage. Maybe there are physical changes made to the building, a reshuffle of office layout or a warehouse with wildly fluctuating inventory.

The Wi-Fi Optimsation stage allows for proactive wireless network improvements to be made for any known impending changes. Constant monitoring also enables a reactive approach to any adjustments that need to be made due to reported issues from end users.

Carrying out regular RF surveys of your Wi-Fi network will provide you with data that becomes invaluable when it comes to making adjustments and troubleshooting issues.

There may be times when a change of requirements is too large for just a few tweaks here and there, which will send you back to the design stage in order to create a new deployment.

Network Troubleshooting

No one wants Wi-Fi woes in their office if they can help it. Disgruntled employees that are complaining of slow Wi-Fi aren’t just demotivated and unproductive – They may not even be able to carry out business-critical tasks. If your business depends on reliable Wi-Fi, then you need to make sure your wireless network meets requirements by following the stages mentioned above.

But unfortunately, there will be times when issues slip through the net. Troubleshooting is probably the most stressful stage of the Wi-Fi Lifecycle. Everyone knows how frustrating it is to have dodgy Wi-Fi, and nobody wants to be on the receiving end of those complaints.

Thankfully, with the right tools you can keep these incidences to a minimum, ensure swift implementation of fixes and get straight back to the optimisation stage. Spectrum analysers are a big help during the troubleshooting process by helping identify Wi-Fi strength and interference.

 

Wi-Fi Design – Yes, we’ve gone full circle!

The nature of wireless networks is everchanging. Requirements change fairly regularly with the needs of the business. Sometimes these will be small, quick fixes and sometimes they will require complete re-design and deployment right from the beginning of the Wi-Fi lifecycle.

Luckily for you, you now know the process – Wi-Fi Design, Wi-Fi Validation, Network Optimisation and Troubleshooting.

 

Whichever stage your wireless network is currently in, Geekabit can help ensure your business Wi-Fi is high-performing and reliable for your end users. For more information or to discuss your requirements, get in touch with out one of our Wi-Fi experts today.

What is RF Design and Why Is It Important for my Wi-Fi Network?

Let’s face it – Our Wi-Fi expectations these days are pretty high. We want a strong, fast, reliable connection – And we want it all of the time. When we have good Wi-Fi, we barely notice it. But when it’s bad, it’s frustratingly apparent.

Unfortunately, what people don’t tend to realise is that a significant part of your wireless network is the RF environment. If you want your Wi-Fi network to perform to those high expectations, then you need to ensure you get this RF environment right.

Designing Your RF  Environment

It starts with the design. To create an effective RF design, you need to consider the environment that this Wi-Fi network is going to be functioning in. Are their neighbouring networks? What potential factors could cause interference?

You also need to consider how you need your Wi-Fi network to work. How many users are there? Will there be areas of higher density than others? These sorts of things define the requirements of the RF design. If you want good wireless network performance to meet those high expectations we mentioned above, then your RF environment needs to be correctly designed and managed.

The best way to identify what design would work well for your environment is to carry out a Wi-Fi survey. If you’re not confident in carrying this our yourself, then consider calling in the experts! We make it our business to provide comprehensive Wi-Fi surveys for any business or home environment. Our expert engineers can then design a Wi-Fi network tailored precisely to your needs, and then install it for you.

Analysing Your Wi-Fi Network

If your Wi-Fi network is already up and running, but you suspect there may be issues somewhere then network monitoring tools can be a useful way of providing visibility of any problems.

If you’re in the Wi-Fi field, then this will be a fairly straightforward exercise for you if you know the tools and how to use them. More often than not though, Wi-Fi network problems need a more in-depth analysis to really get to the bottom of what’s causing issues.

This again is where it might be best to call in the experts. Our Wi-Fi engineers have the specialist tools and knowledge to look at your Wi-Fi network, analyse traffic flow and examine exactly how data is passing through.

Are you experiencing poor wireless network performance?

It’s important to remember that you have very little to no control over what type of devices enter your network. Your Wi-Fi network may be open to guests or maybe even the general public depending on your business. Even non-Wi-Fi devices can have a significant impact on your wireless network.

Are you experiencing poor performance on your Wi-Fi network? To identify the problem you need to analyse 3 main components of your wireless network.

  • The configuration
  • The RF environment
  • The devices / users in your network

Luckily for you you’ve landed in the right place! Here at Geekabit, our engineers are Wi-Fi experts and can carry out Wi-Fi surveys, Wi-Fi Design and Wi-Fi Installation all from our bases in Hampshire, London and Cardiff. For more information get in touch with us today.