Effective wireless network design unites the complexity of an office’s technological infrastructure with the simplicity required to integrate seamlessly with an array of devices, from corporate servers and desktop PCs to BYOD items such as tablets and smartphones.
The ideal design addresses important deliverables, such as:
- Access point locations that serve a strong and reliable signal to all users
- Physical barriers that may impede effective signal delivery
- Stout defensive measures that protect intellectual property, client data, and financial information
Designing a skyscraper likely presents fewer challenges than designing and implementing a wireless network for a company. Fortunately, a review of the following five network design best practices can help keep the effort on the right track.
1. Conduct a site survey
Often overlooked at the peril of the responsible parties, a well-executed site survey may be the difference between a successful wireless network roll-out and continually putting out the kind of small fires that arise in the absence of preparation. If you’re dealing with decision makers who underestimate the value of site surveys, we put together some information that can help you change their minds.
2. Know your audience
If you’ve ever given a speech, the advice “know your audience” was probably offered up a time or two. It’s good advice: knowing your audience helps you deliver your message in a way that is relevant and interesting to the attendees. The same goes for designing and implementing a wireless network.
How often are employees likely to be using the wireless network at any one time? How many consecutive streams of virtual meetings are expected to take place during the same time? What applications will be used? By whom? How frequently? Knowing your audience gets you closer to definitive answers to questions like these, which will help you design the most effective wireless network possible.
Underestimating the load your network may face once it’s fully deployed is easy. Even the most thorough site survey, for instance, coupled with a robust employee policy, won’t solve the problem of employees using personal smartphones, tablets, Bluetooth devices such as headphones or speakers, and more while at work. And while the Internet of Things (IoT) footprint is already significant, it’s only going to become larger.
3. Measure + manage
As the saying goes: What gets measured gets managed. Implementing a wireless network is only part of the job. It’s also important to monitor performance, usage, etc. Doing so will uncover the data you need to optimize the network. A partial list of what you might measure includes:
- Signal coverage
- Bandwidth consumption
- Access point use
- Number of connected devices
A repeating loop of analysis, design, deployment, and support is a great way to service your network’s software and infrastructure. Iterative changes made as a result of this process will help ensure the network stays effective, strong, and secure.
4. Segregate access
When it comes to wireless networks, one size does not fit all. Use the knowledge about your audience gained from the site survey and the deeper dive recommended in Step #2 to develop role-based access criteria. Segregating wireless channels for employees, IoT devices, and visitors/customers (with a virtual LAN, for example) will make the network more manageable and provide a layer of security. It will also help ensure the most important bandwidth is reserved for the most critical operations.
5. Document the process
Memory can be finicky. What you’re sure you will remember next week may be forgotten tomorrow. That can be a problem when it’s time to hand off your wireless network responsibilities to assume a new leadership role in your company, take that exciting new job in Hawaii, or cash in your lottery winnings.
Here’s why not carefully maintaining records can be a problem: Implementing a wireless network — even one built as part of a rock-solid survey and design effort — sometimes requires pivots big and small. Improvisation is a part of the job. For your sanity (and the sanity of those with whom you work), maintain careful records of each decision made throughout the process. When it comes time to troubleshoot an issue months or even years later, the reasons for using access point hardware from Manufacturer Y rather than Manufacturer Z will be clearly stated in a fashion much surer than yours, or anyone else’s, memory.
Your best next wireless step
Paying attention to a handful of best practices can make designing and implementing a wireless network a lot more rewarding and a lot less stressful.
Based in the U.S., CTC Technologies, Inc. is an IT solutions provider capable of stepping in to support your IT infrastructure needs. We’re available immediately to help your company improve network performance, mitigate risk and operate efficiently. Contact us today for a free consultation about the wireless site survey solution that works best for your business.