In an age where hotspots, BYOD, and mobility are all the rage it's no surprise that often customers and friends alike are looking to implement or improve their wireless networks. Who doesn't want to bring their Netflix, Angry Birds, shopping lists, and calorie counters with them?
The excitement over having information and fun on the fly can make even the most veteran trail blazer lose his bearings and end up in hostile countryside.
Before you know it your users are circling the wagon train and you end up scared like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. We don't want that now, do we? So, we are going to cover some basic but important points for any wireless network that will hopefully get you home safe and in time for beans and coffee.
Let's start here. If you are looking to upgrade or put in a new wireless installation then you should go N. More and more devices have N capability and it will give you the best investment. Does that mean tear out all of your legacy wireless? Not at all but if you are making a change anyhow then you should look to the future.
Do you want the centralized controller or the stand-alone AP? I advise going with the controller if you are planning to go with more than a handful of APs. Centralized administration, roaming, better security, and a lot less ibuprofen consumed are just a few good reasons.
Often customers pass on the option of a site survey. Yes, they are optional but they are also important. You could certainly use a program like Airmagnet and do it yourself.
However, any services company worth its salt will not only give you a thorough survey but will also give you a deliverable with heat maps and other info that will be vital in the placement of your APs. Get one if you can.
A site survey will help here but saturation is one of those things that like to sneak up in the middle of the night and steal your horse. With more and more wireless devices in your environment that will mean more and more people using up precious throughput on your APs.
You could just add another AP, but how will it impact your wireless environment? Will it help or make things worse? There is a fine balance that needs to be maintained.
This is also linked to saturation, and the site survey. Planning your channels is vital. Just adding a bunch of APs side by side could get you in trouble and create channel interference.
Spacing your APs appropriately to avoid channel overlap but also to support your saturation levels is where your site survey will be invaluable.
It's simple but often overlooked. Do you have the proper PoE switch infrastructure for your AP's and other wireless devices or do you need to invest in some power injectors?Make sure that wherever you decide to hang AP's you have considered how you will get power to them!
We briefly touched on these topics, but we could fill a couple ten gallon hats with information on the subjects above. Don't get caught trying to get out of town by sundown. Instead, be prepared so that the next time the wireless network comes up you can confidently say to your users "I'm your huckleberry."
Frank is the Vice President of the Technology Solutions Group at CXtec, a global reseller of new and pre-owned networking, cable and voice technologies. In this role Frank is responsible for overseeing all aspects of product management, asset recovery, product strategy and remarketing. Frank began his career at CXtec as a Product Manager in 1994 and was later promoted to Director of Technology Remarketing prior to being promoted to his current position.
Before joining CXtec, Frank was employed by CIS Corporation as a Product Manager.
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from SUNY Potsdam.