Coverage or Capacity – What Does Your Wireless Design Need

CoverageorCapacity WhatDoesYourWirelessDesignNeed

Does your wireless network support the needs and provide the performance your users expect?

If your network is not keeping up with the demands of your users or providing the security and visibility, then it is time to reevaluate your wireless network design. By going through the proper design process, you can guarantee the Wi-Fi network meets specified requirements and achieves your goals.

Let’s take a look at three things that will help you plan your next wireless network design.

1. Define your needs and goals
2. Understand coverage areas and capacity
3. Perform a predictive site survey

Define your needs and goals
Start your wireless design by taking a step back and determining your network needs. The following factors must be considered to determine the type and number of access points as part of your design.

  • Type of site – office, warehouse, reception hall, hotel, dormitory, etc.
  • Number of floors for coverage
  • Construction materials – concrete, brick, drywall, elevator shafts, and metal
  • Exclusion areas – locations where coverage is not needed or wanted
  • Number of SSID’s needed
  • Maximum number of client devices concurrently transmitting and receiving traffic on each SSID
  • Types of client devices supported
  • Applications being supported
  • Required throughput levels
  • Security requirements to access each SSID by user groupings

Gathering this information gives you a good overview to begin your design. Knowing these details will help as you begin looking at coverage and capacity of your wireless network.

Understanding coverage areas and capacity
When looking to set up a wireless network, people tend to approach it from a single (and over-simplistic) prospective. They spread out access points across a space in an attempt to provide signal coverage from corner to corner – many times distributing too many or too little units. Today’s users assume the mobility Wi-Fi networks are capable of providing but expect the performance they are used to from a wired network. Coverage is important but designing wireless networks for optimal performance is all about planning for capacity.

Considerations when designing for capacity:

  • Number of end user devices – When you have a large number of users accessing Wi-Fi and demanding throughput at the same time, it is considered to be a high-density area. As a general rule of thumb, when 25 to 30 active devices are served by a single AP (approximately 500 to 1,000 square feet) you should design your wireless network using high density best practices.
  • Device type – In today’s world of mobile phones, tablets and all the IoT devices available, a network must be designed to be dynamic enough to support capabilities of both legacy and the most current devices. By identifying the device type, you can build a design that supports dual band coverage across both 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums. If you have multi-radio access points, you will allow both 2.4 and 5GHz devices to connect successfully while providing load balancing to the users. While this may seem like a simple concept, it is essential for high-density wireless areas.
  • Applications on the network – It is critical to understand which applications will be used and how much bandwidth each application will consume in terms of throughput per device.

Perform a predictive site survey
A predictive site survey is a virtual survey of your site or facility that uses pertinent information about the environment to plan for wireless network optimization. The goal of a predictive site survey is to establish design criteria, such as AP quantity and placement, with relative confidence. Doing so will then reduce the amount of effort required to perform the typically labor-intensive pre-deployment site survey. One of the major benefits of predictive modeling is the ability to quickly simulate various deployment scenarios while narrowing design alternatives. A predictive site survey will never be 100% accurate, and though it might not replace pre-deployment or post-deployment site surveys, it can help expedite them.

Do you need assistance with your wireless design and deployment or optimizing your existing wireless network? We are here to help. At Innovative Integration, we focus on wireless network design, optimization, deployment, and support for large-scale, enterprise wireless networks. If you have any questions about your wireless network and would like to receive some consultation, you can contact us here.

About Larry Taylor

Innovative helps you balance your business requirements, service levels, staff and infrastructure to make your IT as effective as possible. Larry Taylor is a Senior Solutions Consultant at Innovative with a focus on Microsoft technologies. Since 2002, Larry has been recommending, deploying, and providing support for organizations to align technology solutions with their business needs.

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