5 Reasons Wireless Site
Surveys are Still Critical

High-performance wireless coverage is expected in today’s commercial spaces.

The pressure is even greater in new facilities deemed state-of-the-art.

Still, any enterprise that has deployed (or is working to deploy) an 802.11-based wireless LAN in a forthcoming space has likely heard some version of, "Don’t pay for a site survey. Install the access points once it’s built and let the wireless infrastructure sort it out." This chorus is especially common among hardware vendors eager to accelerate sales cycles and unload more hardware. But whatever the source, these assertions couldn’t be farther from the truth, or more detrimental to the connectivity of a new or forthcoming space.

A site survey is the key component of successful, on-time wireless implementation, and a prerequisite for wireless networks that deliver and endure.

A wireless network implemented according to specifications determined during a site survey will meet and often exceed performance and reliability expectations. Still willing to roll the dice in efforts to avoid the expense?

Here are five more reasons that wireless site surveys are essential in new construction and beneficial to business outcomes:


No Substitute for Comprehensive Site Survey

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More than a Single Application System

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Accelerated Return on Investement

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Spend Less in the Long Run

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Fewer Performance Issues

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RF Management algorithms are not a substitute for a comprehensive pre-deployment radio frequency design, including a site survey

"No survey necessary" arguments sometimes point to algorithms built into most current wireless LAN architectures, suggesting that these algorithms provide an adaptable radiofrequency (RF) system capable of dealing with changes in the RF environment in real time. Though RF management functionality provides useful benefits, it is by no means a substitute for a comprehensive pre-deployment RF site survey, which is the most surefire means of building the foundation for a stable, predictable network.

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Wireless networks have shifted away from purpose-built, single application systems and continue moving toward more comprehensive, robust multimedia network platforms

Put simply, your unique space requires a unique wireless network if you want it to support the wide array of modern applications today’s users need and expect. Such customization is only attainable via insights gleaned from a site survey.

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A wireless LAN deployment’s return on investment (ROI) can be accelerated by layering more applications onto the system

More and more businesses rely on their wireless networks for voice, video, and location-based services. But it’s rarely as simple as adding capacity once a network is deployed. A proper RF design, including a site survey, is flexible to handle technology and environmental changes as they occur.

A quality site survey minimizes this risk. A site survey isn’t simply physical measurements and analysis performed on site by an RF engineer; it’s a comprehensive consulting and information-gathering process that identifies what applications a wireless network must support the first day it’s deployed and down the road. Engineers work closely with teams to identify projects in the pipeline that impact today’s wireless design.

ROI is also accelerated by a site survey’s educational value. Site surveys grant IT departments a deeper understanding of wireless technology and its deployment, allowing them to provide more comprehensive support. Technical staff and business units gain an understanding of a network’s potential, helping them cultivate new ideas for leveraging the wireless network and accelerating related business outcomes.

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You’ll likely spend less in the long run

It can be hard to justify the cost of a site survey to management, even when you know it’s the right choice. After all, site surveys cost money – in some cases, quite a bit of it. But it’s important to note that the economics of site surveys work in your favor in the long run.

The majority of wireless networks installed in the absence of a comprehensive site survey suffer from performance and reliability problems that can’t be tolerated when voice or location-based services applications are deployed. The cost to remediate these networks can be two or three times the cost of an initial, pre-deployment site survey. In other words, pay a little now to get it right, or pay more later to fix it.

Imagine, for example, that your hardware vendor suggests a certain number of access points based upon a simple calculation of the square footage of your facility. In all likelihood, this calculation will play it safe, recommending an unnecessarily high number of access points to help ensure that your facility is fully covered (for now, let’s ignore the fact that having too many access points can be as bad as having too few). The cost of deploying a single extra access point can often cover the cost of surveying for one day. If a site survey saves just one access point, you’ve covered a single day of survey time.

It’s always cheaper to do it right the first time. So the short answer is simple: It’s always right to survey an area prior to deployment of any wireless technologies.

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You’ll encounter fewer performance hurdles

This is where the true value of the survey is realized. If a network is deployed with too few or too many access points, users experience unreliable and unpredictable performance, resulting in complaints to IT and, worse, low confidence in the network.

Beyond inconvenience and missed opportunity costs, IT spends countless hours troubleshooting the problems, addressing user concerns only to find out that additional hardware is necessary (or too much was installed) - and the hardware that is in place may not be installed in the optimal locations. See #4: site surveys translate to less money spent in the long run. Expenses related to IT resource time, a remediation site survey, and any moves/adds/changes required to bring the network up to speed often exceed the cost of a pre-deployment site survey by a significant margin.

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