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Which Wireless Network Assessment is Best for Business

April 05, 2022

Which Wireless Network Assessment is Best for Business
Bob Arsenault, Ingram Micro Radio Frequency and Data Networking Technology Expert

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Description automatically generated with medium confidenceThe proliferation of wireless devices is placing significant demands on new and existing wireless network infrastructure. Compounding this issue, mobility devices connecting to production networks are consuming increasingly greater amounts of bandwidth as workers use them for data, voice and video. This pressure may manifest itself as: difficulty connecting to the wireless network, slow performance, inconsistency of signal strength and reliability issues. Ultimately a less than optimally implemented wireless network decreases worker productivity and satisfaction and increases service loads on IT staff.   

SAGAR DiagramUsing its industry-best assessment processes, Ingram Micro will Survey, Analyze, Report, Architect and Document (SARAD) an existing wireless network to discover and recommend mitigation strategies that will correct discovered issues, or will use this process to design a completely new wireless system that encompasses the latest wireless standards and devices that optimize performance. Using the results of the appropriate assessment methodology, the reseller can assist their customer by providing proper wireless best practices guidance and design services so the wireless network operates efficiently.

There are three primary types of surveys performed for wireless networks, depending on the desired outcome by the end client. If there is a new network design that’s required, depending on size and complexity, an active survey is the most accurate and dependable way to design the network. Active surveys are used extensively in complex building structures, demanding high-density office networks, and in any environment where precision and wireless performance is a requirement. They require an architect to go onsite and execute a design plan based on the customer’s desired outcome where they physically measure the outcome of each access point’s chosen position. Active surveys by their nature are more expensive than the alternative survey type—a predictive survey. In a predictive survey, an architect creates a digital model of the building using a customer-provided floorplan. Radio frequency calculations are performed to guide the best placement of each access point based on building industry construction standards and performance data from the access point vendor of choice.

Active, passive and troubleshooting WNAs have a final report, and a 30-to-60-minute executive level PowerPoint presentation containing a summary of the project findings. A predictive survey contains a final report with AP placement and correct configuration parameters for the access points.

Wireless networks create tremendous pull-through for supporting wired networking hardware, may contain recurring licensing revenue and add high-value professional assessment services at a high profit margin to an existing product stream.

Wired and wireless networks work together to provide a customer with a total communication solution that’s tailored to each use case and building type. Wireless networks do not contain simple plug-and-play devices; they require custom design for the proper use case that the customer is trying to solve. Evaluating this use case, the customer’s building environment is also analyzed to understand how the wired network will support the wireless devices, as the wireless network relied on will have to use the wired network for eventual transport to the existing onsite servers, or even just out to the internet for remote communications to a central corporate data center. 

A wireless system connects an end-user device (i.e., laptop, tablet or scan gun) to a resource (server, webpage, inventory database, etc.) via radio waves. Along that communication journey, data passes through switches, routers, and other networking devices that facilitate communications between the client and the central resource. Of note, as newer generations of wireless access points are developed, the new higher speed signaling schemas add much greater throughput to wireless users that must be supported by the wired system.

In an existing wireless network, any time the primary use case changes for the environment, a new survey should be performed. A practical example is additions or removal of physical areas of an environment. In the case of warehouses, removal or addition of racks can change RF behavior and coverage. A drastic change in inventory types can also influence the network. A network that is designed for lamp shades will not perform as well if the shelves now contain engine blocks.

In a new network design, the decision of which type of survey to perform depends on complexity, size of installation and other factors. Contact the Ingram Micro DSX sale team for assistance with making this decision.

If end users are complaining that the wireless system is dropping sessions/connections, they are having bad experiences when in video calls, or perhaps their voice communication has pauses or gaps in the audio stream, this is a sign the wireless network is having difficulty supporting communications. The reason can be many, but what you don’t want to do is just drop in more access points without knowing WHY the network is having difficulties. Did you know there are limited channels in the wireless space and devices often contend with each other to use that spectrum space? Adding more devices without a cohesive plan can cause even more trouble to the wireless network. Troubleshooting services are designed to analyze and perform a forensic of the existing network. From analysis of the collected data mitigation, strategies can be created to help alleviate congestion or signaling issues that are all but invisible without the proper tools to discover the problem.

Client devices often face wireless performance issues, network congestion, change of use case for the wireless system and “dead zones.” Any time you’re adding new APs into an environment, whether that’s a new building or adding onto an existing work area, no matter the size or complexity, it’s critical to assess the environment to ensure there is available and secure coverage to support business needs.

For more information, click here or contact us at DXSolutions@ingrammicro.com.