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10 Things to ConsiderWhen Planning your Wireless Network

Planning your wireless network? Core cabling, based in Newmarket Ontario, can help. Contact us at 905-235-7755 for help with your Toronto and GTA based wireless networks. To get you started on the right track, here are the top 10 things to consider when planning your design.

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Choose a partner that is capable of the work you want done.

There are many service providers out there that advertise wireless solutions. Make sure they have the capabilities to perform the tasks at hand. Wireless communications are not as easy as hanging access points around your facility. You might get it working, but possibly not the way you want it to work. There are many things to consider when designing your network. Make sure your wireless installation company has the certifications to work with the vendor being recommended. And make sure they have references for similar installations. Everyone says they can do wireless, but not everyone can do it well.

Use the right technology.

There are many vendors of wireless products in the marketplace, and while they all have their own features, some are inherently better in certain environments than others. From a technology point of view, make sure you are selecting features that you really need. 2.4 ghz, or 5 ghz, or dual radios that can propagate in both frequencies is a first choice that needs to be made. Designing your network for 2.4 ghz may or may not be necessary based on the types of devices and applications being used over your network. 2.4 ghz can introduce unnecessary interference into your environment if not planned accordingly, or not needed at all. Controller based, controller less, or cloud based controllers is another major choice from a technology standpoint. All offer different advantages, and have a fit for different applications and environments. Ask Core Cabling what best wireless technology is best for you.

Plan for Capacity.

Include capacity or total number of devices and application performance into your network plan. Coverage is important, but often capacity is just as important in planning for your wireless network. Understanding the number of users and total number of devices that will be connecting to your network is an important step in this process. This can also vary from everyday use, to spikes that may occur seasonally, or during events, depending on your environment. Designing a solution that can handle the number of simultaneous connections per access point, can, and should be paramount in your selection process.

Plan for planning.

Coverage, capacity, users, devices, applications, interference, power requirements, and security, are all considerations that need to be input into your design model. Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be. Not long ago, wireless network design involved a floor plan, and plotting locations for access points with a protractor. This process was cumbersome, and prone to errors in channel and power planning that caused unnecessary interference and holes in your network. The good news is that access points no long require manual power and channel settings. Wireless planning has also become much more simple, thanks to great software options. The downside however, is that wireless devices and the world of Wi-Fi continue to get more complex than ever. Make sure to choose a partner that has the tools needed for the job at hand. Taking shortcuts during planning will not help you down the road when you have a network that will not provide the performance you, your staff, and your customers are expecting.

Security.

Don’t forget about security. Include network access control as part of the design process. It is essential to have a secure method for registering devices that you don't own. This is well worth the effort. Protecting your network from wireless users is just as important as protecting your wireless users from each other. Unfortunately there are those out there that would seek to benefit from your hard work and your investment. From sealing your bandwidth, hijacking your guests, and stealing personal information, protecting you and your guests should always be a priority. You will be happy you made this consideration in the long run.

Remember maintenance.

Keep your firmware or network adapter driver for your wireless network devices updated. Manufacturers provide firmware and driver updates on a regular basis. On some occasions, these updates will increase performance. Typically you can access updates through the manufacturer’s website. In a similar fashion, sometimes network adapter vendors provide updates to their software, which can improve reliability and performance. Most vendors offer annual support options. These are an important part of keeping your network up to date. Likewise many solution providers offer some type of maintenance offering that can coincide with your manufacturer support and firmware upgrades. This is your partners chance to perform a health check on your network, make improvements as necessary, and head off any potential problems before they arise. Whether it is a new wireless network, or your existing network, Core Cabling can help with your maintenance needs. All saving you time and or money in the long run.

Survey, survey, and survey.

Remember the point above about planning for planning? The survey is the most important part of this step. There are many types of surveys, including onsite passive and active surveys. The most important ones to keep in mind as part of your design are the predictive and the post validation surveys. The predictive model survey involved importing your buildings drawings into the survey software. Adding considerations like materials, walls, floors, thicknesses, windows and doors, shelving, elevators and stairwells. Anything that can and does add interference or attenuation into your environment is input here. This is important in understanding how the wireless devices will interact in your environment, and necessary for planning a solution that will do what you want it to do. Once the installation is complete, the last step is the post validation survey. This is a process involving physically walking through your facility and taking a reading of your wireless network, and comparing it to the predictive model. The purpose of this is 2 fold. 1) To see firsthand how your network is performing and making any necessary changes for improvement. And 2) To see firsthand that your network is performing as planned and that you are getting what you paid for. Without it you really are just shooting in the dark. Can you get a photo with better resolution?

Don’t just add on.

Historically, when a wireless network has a dead zone, it was easy to just put up another access point and not worry about the fall out. Today, we know that this is not the best course of action. There is a large difference between our residential home wireless router and a corporate grade wireless access point. The corporate grades are smarter, and more powerful. And thankfully with the help of the controller based solution, we have more tools at our disposal to help mitigate interference and performance issues. Often adding unnecessary access points to an ill performing network will make the problem worse by adding to the interference. This is especially true in environments where 2.4 ghz is being utilized. Engaging Core Cabling, or your trusted wireless partner, is the best course of action to help with situations like this.

Include Redundancy and Disaster Recovery.

While we know these are often pain points for any business owner, we also know that you have probably taken steps to integrate redundancy and disaster recovery into your current network design. Why shouldn’t this be the same for your wireless network? Many solutions on the market today have self-healing architecture. This means that in the event of an access point failing, the controller will see it, and tell the surrounding access points to increase or decrease power accordingly to help compensate for the failure until it can be replaced or repaired. Also, a proper design, that offers a coverage model based on redundancy is paramount. This means that each location in your facility can be covered by at least 2 access points. Disaster recovery is the second part of this. Having a backup of your controller and access point configuration is equally important in ensuring that your network is back online quickly following a failure or disasters. Together these two elements can prove to be invaluable in saving you time and money throughout the lifespan of your wireless network.

Standardization and growth.

Standardization of the hardware and software used in a wireless network is important for ensuring the network runs smoothly. It also reduces costs associated with maintenance, updates and repairs. Most business owners understand the benefits of having their employees using the same notebooks, with the same word processing and email programs for example. Having your wireless network designed with industry standard protocols in mind, likewise, is a necessary investment for ensuring not only the longevity of the solution, but the capacity for growth and expansion. While it may not always be possible to anticipate how large an organization may be in 5 years, some allowances for future growth must be built into the network design. For example, designing a wireless network with 5 access points, connected to a controller has the capability of only handling 5 access points, will definitely lead to frustration when you need to buy a new controller to add the 6th access point for your newly renovated area in your facility. Core will make sure we are helping to future proof you wireless network design. Make sure that your partner is keeping this in mind when designing your network.

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