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Wireless Network Setup | It’s Your Move | Part 4

by Kevin Gillingham | Feb 11, 2014

Wireless Network So far in our series about moving (or expanding) your business, we’ve discussed considerations for your business phone system, your bandwidth, and your network cabling. In today’s blog, we are delving into what you need to knowabout setting up your wireless network at your new location.

Wireless networks are under increasing amounts of pressure as technology has evolved. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other wireless devices are the constant companions of most of your employees. “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) puts additional pressure on your network wireless – in terms of both capacity and security.

Wireless Site Survey                                       

Initially, you should have a professional do a comprehensive radio frequency (RF) site survey, or, “Wireless Site Survey”. This is an important first step in deploying an effective wireless network. The survey involves an assessment of the building to evaluate RF coverage, check for RF interference, and determine the optimal placement for wireless devices.

A Wireless Site Survey conducted by a qualified professional, using state-of-the-art technology is essential for the inspection and the subsequent implementation of a wireless network that will support your organization’s needs. Once the site survey is complete, it becomes a guide for the design and installation of your network.

It will determine the following aspects of the network wireless, necessary for an optimized network:

1. Do You Have Proper Coverage?

As users move throughout the office with their various devices, your wireless network should be able to handle the fluctuating demands of today’s flexible business environment. Every device using your wireless network should have appropriate and consistent signal level coverage, wherever it is in the office. Without proper coverage, end point devices and users will receive low signal, affecting the device performance and user experience.

2. Where Is the Interference?

The area must be assessed for existing wireless networks and other RF signals that may interfere with your wireless network. The site survey will find the areas where these problems are occurring so that they can be dealt with properly.

It is important to understand that your facility may have RF signals “bleeding” into it. So, even if you don’t already have a wireless network, you may have RF signals in your space.

Additional potential sources of interference are your own access points; when they are too far away from your WLAN, their signal can become weakened or corrupted by the distance. Also, “rogue” access points that do not belong to the network infrastructure can cause interference and should be removed.

However, many other devices emit RF interference – and cause major loss of throughput. AM/FM radio signals, bad electrical connections, certain motion detectors, 2.4 GHz cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, wireless game controllers, televisions, and microwave ovens are all potential culprits for such interference.

Building structure can have an effect on radio signals, causing Wi-Fi disturbance. Modern insulation techniques often require the use of a foil that reflects the signal. Older buildings, on the other hand, can have lead-based paint beneath the newer coats that will cause interference.

3. Where Should the Access Points Be Located?

Access point placement is a significant component of setting up your new office Wi-Fi. They are the devices that receive and transmit the WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) signals. Typically, access points can effectively sustain ten wireless devices at a time.

The correct number and positioning of the access points, on the right channel, with the appropriate number of antennas, are all aspects of a property designed wireless network. All are contributing factors to the capability of your wireless network, while ensuring many of its potential interference problems are solved.

In light of the BYOD trend, enough access points must be installed to handle the constant demands on the wireless network. The site survey will help to determine the appropriate number of access points that you will need to handle your business Wi-Fi requirements.

4. Is it Secure?

Your business needs strong security practices to prevent unauthorized access to your network. This could come from external sources or from unauthorized employee devices. Therefore, you must secure your wireless network with a data encryption protocol.

WPA2 is the most secure encryption, using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to protect your wireless. WPA2 has two modes, WPA2-PSK and WPA2-ENT. Beyond encryption, you will also require Virtual Private Networks (VPN), firewalls, and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). The experienced professional engineering the design of your network will be able to help you determine the optimal configuration for your unique needs.

5. Can I Take Advantage of a Wireless Point-to-Point System?

If you have two or more locations that are close to one another (typically within 2km “line-of-sight”), you may be able to implement a point-to-point (PtP) wireless system.

It is possible to have several PtP links to one central location, if there are many line-of-sight buildings that require connection. This is called “point-to-multipoint”.

The benefit of a wireless PtP system is higher bandwidth capabilities at a lower cost. The return on investment (ROI) can often be realized within only a few months by eliminating lease line costs.

Properly setting up your wireless network will increase your productivity, and save you from capacity troubles down the road. A Wireless Site Survey will provide the guidelines for designing and implementing the best wireless network for your unique needs.

>> Activo professionals are trained and certified experts in wireless networks. Contact us to discuss having a state-of-the-art Wireless Site Survey performed for your office space.