Top Myths About Wireless Site Surveys
Every business leader understands how difficult it is to move offices, and if you’ve ever had to organize the construction of a new space, you know how costly it can be in terms of time and resources. However, despite all of the investments in moves, business leaders often skip critical steps, like wireless site surveys, typically as a way to save money.
Wireless site surveys involve an engineer visiting the workspace and gathering information to develop a proper wireless network design. In instances where the workspace is under construction, engineers can use scaled floor plans to perform a predictive technical analysis to ensure that the wireless access meets the demands of the new or growing business (note: predictive surveys are not as precise or reliable as on-site surveys, but they are a useful middle ground when a true site survey is not possible). Strong partners will provide their clients with a detailed breakdown of what hardware is recommended, how each access point should be configured, where they should be placed, and more.
It sounds simple enough, right? Many people believe a variety of myths about site surveys – myths that often put their companies at risk, whether through service disruptions or even cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Here’s a breakdown of the top myths about wireless site surveys that business leaders fall prey to:
More Access Points Means Better Signal
The most pervasive myth that business leaders believe about site surveys is that they can be skipped, and the organization can simply buy more access points to boost their wireless network performance if needed.
If your wireless network is performing poorly, adding more access points could actually worsen its performance, depending on the issue. The reason for this is that every access point sends a signal to the surrounding area, and if there are multiple access points transmitting at the same frequency, the signals can interfere with each other.
In some cases, it may make sense to increase the number of access points to increase the performance or capacity of the network, but as you increase the density of the access points, you’ll need to recalibrate each to keep them from interfering with one another. Furthermore, beyond the technical issue, there is a matter of the cost. At a certain point, the solution of simply adding more becomes more costly than the survey itself. Surveys help organizations not only design the ideal wireless environment to serve their employees and customers, but it also allows them to buy what is needed – and nothing more, or less.
My Equipment Already Detects Interference, So I Don’t Have to Do Anything Else
Having equipment that can automatically detect when there’s frequency interference on a specific band can be helpful in minimizing the disruption to your service, but it fails to account for a wide range of interference sources.
The way the equipment works is by using an internal chip to identify the presence of outside frequencies and then change the access points in the area to a different channel in the hopes of minimizing impact to performance. However, as noted previously, interference can come from areas like Bluetooth devices that don’t stick to a single frequency but provide broadband coverage. If your organization – or any of your employees – utilize devices that are Bluetooth-enabled, then your equipment isn’t going to be able to remove that interference on its own.
Increasing My Access Point’s Transmission Power Will Improve Network Performance
Similar to increasing the density of access points, people believe that increasing their access point’s transmission power will increase the efficacy of the network, but the reality is that this often creates problems with the way devices talk to one another.
Cranking an access point’s power to the max expands the radius of the access point’s transmission, making it possible for devices to receive information, but it’s possible that the receiving device won’t be able to acknowledge receipt. Smaller devices have smaller ranges, and if an access point on maximum power is transmitting to a cell phone, then it’s possible the cell phone is showing a strong signal, but because the phone can’t acknowledge the receipt of the access point’s signal, both the cell phone and the access point keep sending the same packet between them, tying up airtime and reducing the overall speed of the network.
You Only Have to Do a Site Survey Once
Maybe you’re one of the business leaders who recognized the value of a site survey already and scheduled one to be done prior to moving your company into their new offices. That was a smart step, but many leaders who opt for this think they’re done once the wireless network has been deployed.
Site surveys are a snapshot of your network at a single moment in time, and often the way your environment looks when you first deploy the wireless network is different than the way your workspace looks after using it over time. As your environment changes, new sources of interference and potential network vulnerabilities can develop that have to be dealt with if you want to keep your wireless network optimized. Performing regular site surveys (often referred to as coverage assessments when performed after deployment) will help minimize these issues and prevent them from escalating into major network problems.
It’s common for business leaders to pay close attention to their budgets, and with good reason: ensuring a business is profitable is the only way to be certain of its survival. However, what separates a good business leader from an everyday one is recognizing when it makes sense to invest in a product or service that will help their business grow.
While there are a lot of opinions about site surveys, leading to the rise of myths like the ones we’ve discussed, it’s a critical investment for an organization to make in almost every case. There are some exceptions that can arise, but when you conduct a site survey, you protect not only your business’s wireless performance, but its future as a trusted partner to your clients.