Today, wireless rules the business world, from the corporation to the retail environment. That becomes clear with the 2017 Cisco Visual Networking Index that states that traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for more than 63 percent of total IP traffic by 2021.That's both good and bad news for the businesses in the process of building, expanding, or upgrading their WiFi networks due to a host of factors. In order to avoid the negatives such as coverage, security, and excessive cost risks that can negatively impact the business, it’s imperative to start the process with a WiFi site survey.
Regardless of the size of the business network and how it is being used, a site survey is the foundation to ensuring the network design and build provide optimal coverage for the business users, both internally and externally. To make the point clearer, here are three ways a WiFi site survey benefits your business:
1. Minimizing Direct and Indirect Costs to the Business
A wireless site survey helps determine where to place WiFi access points (APs) to avoid interference and avoid overlap coverage from other APs. By getting a wireless site survey, it will help determine if there are co-channel interferences and how much, where external radio interferences are causing problems, how to minimize the number of WiFi APs needed, and where to place the WiFi APs for best coverage.
Without a proper site survey, you could over- or underestimate the number and correct placement of the APs. Underestimating means dead spots that can cost business as part of the added value of providing a free WiFi zone, as patrons will just go elsewhere, taking their business with them. For internal business users, it can mean loss of productivity and missed business opportunities that can dramatically affect the bottom line.
By overestimating the number of APs needed without a site survey, you’re spending more money than necessary in equipment without an increase in optimization. Both over- and underestimating APs can have a direct effect on the cost, as well as the usability of the network for the business in the short term and in the long term.
2. Ensuring Adequate Bandwidth to Meet Business and Customer Traffic Needs
An expertly executed site survey and design will be the foundation of a network that supports the coverage needs, device capacity numbers to be supported, data rates for high-bandwidth applications, seamless roaming, quality of service, and more. Without a WiFi site survey, it’s impossible to accurately determine needs for bandwidth based on the number of users and the type of traffic.
If you'll be offering wireless connectivity to a large group of users or to a bandwidth-hungry user group, coverage and throughput per user are highly important factors. This is because different devices and the way that they are used at any given time can eat up a lot of bandwidth. This can include things like the number of voice-over-WiFi handsets (maximum concurrent calls/coverage/roaming), type of applications used on wireless (mail/internet/streaming media), etc.
The result of not having accurate bandwidth is that critical business functions and communication could be interrupted due to network traffic bottlenecks. A thorough site survey can form the basis of determining the proper bandwidth needed based on number and types of users, as well as devices and locations.
3. Meeting Security Needs That Could Affect the Business
WiFi networks for businesses require the utmost control over the devices and software that access internal resources, which requires a new layer of security solutions. Site surveys are foundational to building a network that is secure for authorized devices.
Every business must consider cyberattacks that can result in stolen data or wireless connectivity disruptions, which can be incredibly damaging to business objectives. Here is where the ability to plan your AP locations better through a site survey can have an impact on optimizing the network’s security.
For example, the map produced from a WiFi site survey can help determine more secure locations that bolster physical security. More important, in healthcare and retail settings where private information may traverse the network, a site survey can be crucial to meeting compliance regulations and their security needs (HIPAA, PCI).
Whether it’s a small to medium-sized business or enterprise, the wireless network is crucial to doing business, regardless of the sector or industry. Entrusting the design and building of networking solutions to anyone but professional IT such as the team from a skilled and trusted managed IT services provider (MSP) can put your business at great risk. By having the MSP start with a detailed WiFi site survey, you can ensure that the final network design and build meet the needs of users today while having the ability to meet the growing needs of tomorrow.