When implementing a highly-reliable wireless and wired network at a live meeting, many factors must be considered. This series talks about some of the most common gotchas that cause poorly implemented wireless networks to fail, and questions you can ask to ensure your meeting doesn't fall victim to an under-performing network.
Gotcha #1 Coverage vs. Capacity
When designing a wireless network, most people understand the need to have proper coverage. They check to see if they have full bars and if so, don't understand why their performance is not any good. To support high-density networks such as those typical in a conference environment, designing for capacity is equally as important.
The demand for wireless usage has greatly out-paced what most hotels and even many conference centers can supply. Users have multiple devices and pull significantly larger amounts of data across those devices than even just a couple years ago.
For conference venues that implemented Wi-Fi networks several years ago, most were designed with coverage in mind but not necessarily capacity. For example, in an area where there are six break-out rooms, they may have installed one access point whose signal can reach to all six rooms. When only two or three people per room need to access the wireless network, that design may work. However, where even one room wants to do an iPad training for 20 people, that network will experience serious performance issues.
Upgrading a venue's wireless infrastructure can be a significant cost. If the venue can support well enough all but a few of the larger or more technically-driven meetings during the year, it is hard to justify the cost to upgrade if the ROI doesn't work.
Before choosing a venue to host a high-density technology meeting, make sure you understand what type of capacity needs you will have and then do a site survey to determine if the venue's wireless network can meet both your coverage and capacity needs. If it cannot, brining in a 3rd party vendor to temporarity supplement or replace the venue's system is now a common option.
Anyone can claim they do wireless site surveys, including those that walk around using free utilities that check for basic signal strength, without any training or understanding of how wireless works. That may be fine if you only need basic Internet connectivity, but if your network supports mission-critical applications, you need a professional-grade solution.
Our methodologies are what differentiate us from our competition. We start with the belief that combining the best tools and training with years of experience leads to the best wireless solutions available. Our formula for success includes the following:
Expert Certified Personnel
We start with a commitment to having the best trained personnel possible. We only employ or contract with Certified Wireless Network Professionals (CWNP).
We are proud to be a member of the prestigious CWNE roundtable, an exclusive committee of wireless experts dedicated to developing the highest level and most respect vendor-neutral certification in the wireless industry, as well as writing technical whitepapers.
Predictive models, also known as virtual site surveys allow us to efficiently and accurately identify the number of access points required, as well as their initial placement and configuration. Modeling is ideal for creating "what if" scenarios that show us the effects of changes in real time. Our designs always start with a model which we then validate.
RF Spectrum Analysis
Because wireless networks operate in unlicensed frequencies, potential interference from numerous devices such as microwaves, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, video cameras, etc. can have a significant negative impact. RF spectrum analyzers are the only devices that can identify physical-layer interference, and no onsite wireless site survey is complete without this service.
Onsite Site Surveys / Validation
When the highest degree of accuracy is required for your mission-critical applications, there is no substitute for a professional-grade manual site survey.
Our surveys start with temporarily mounting the same access points and antennas that will be permanently installed. We then use professional-grade software to test not only for signal strength, but Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) to test the signal's viability, interference and data rates. Our thorough approach is the most accurate solution available.
Our reports spell out the facts, and leave no doubt in the customer's mind as to what the wireless network does or will look like.