An often-overlooked and under-valued step in the rollout of a UCC solution is network assessment. Time and again we hear of problems that could have been caught and addressed if precautionary measures were taken before a technology order was even placed. As more UCC solutions move to the cloud and customers seek to leverage their wireless networks, it’s even more critical to take the time to make sure the network is adequate and properly configured. Here’s some advice to make sure you don’t make avoidable mistakes when it comes to wireless implementations.
Perform assessments. It should go without saying, but first make sure you’re actually performing a voice- and video-readiness assessment. There are tools available to help you and Ingram Micro also offers its own team to perform a variety of different assessments on your behalf.
Check bandwidth. Test to ensure your customers have the necessary bandwidth and WAN resources for voice and video traffic expected. Aren’t sure how much traffic is expected? Work with Ingram Micro or your vendors to calculate minimum requirements. Don’t forget that UCC isn’t the only technology using bandwidth. Ask your customers about other applications (e.g., video surveillance, off-site backups) that might also be eating up bandwidth.
Check wireless coverage. Every building will present its own unique challenges that will impact wireless quality. Wall thickness, the amount of glass, building materials, nearby interference sources and more will impact your customers. Also, don’t assume that every conference room in the same hallway will have the same characteristics. You have no idea what’s in the walls and ceiling waiting to degrade the wireless signal. For assistance in this area, you can turn to Ingram Micro’s Wireless Network Assessment service.
Monitor trials. If you’re rolling out in phases, test bandwidth use and performance early on so you have time to make any necessary changes.
Segment traffic. You’ll want to ensure that your voice and video traffic is segmented to prevent traffic broadcasts from interfering with one another and to make it easier to set up quality of service (QoS).
Properly configure QoS. The newer 802.11 specifications provide features that will improve the performance of voice and video over Wi-Fi. It’s now easier than ever to prioritize real-time traffic (i.e., voice and video) on the wireless network.
Ensure MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) technology is being used. Arriving with 802.11n, MIMO transmits data using multiple antennas to reduce transmission errors and reduce packet loss.
Use 5 GHz spectrum. Old access points and devices leveraged the 2.4 GHz wireless spectrum. The problem is that this space is particularly vulnerable to interference from other devices such as microwaves and other wireless devices. Newer wireless technology takes advantage of the lesser-used 5 GHz range. If possible, put UCC traffic on the 5 GHz channel.
This is, of course, just a short list of things to keep in mind. If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the above, or simply want assistance, contact Curt Vurpillat or Chad Simon. By taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure your next UCC-over-wireless solution is stable and effective.