Wireless Design Guide for Schools: Top 5 Questions and Answers
“Experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is high”. – Norwegian Proverb
We believe in using someone else’s experience to avoid common mistakes. The most important part of a wireless lan deployment is designing it properly from the start. Here are the most frequently asked questions we receive from schools looking to build or expand their wireless infrastructure.
Question: Do I need to be a Radio Frequency (RF) expert in order to plan and manage an 802.11n wireless network?
Answer: No, but you’ll want to learn to use wireless site survey planning software or get help with the wireless design. Many wireless consultants (like us) even provide free wireless site surveys in many cases. Something to note, you’ll want a system that gives you real time RF views AFTER the system is installed. Many WLAN Systems offer this, it’s very important for troubleshooting after installation.
Question: What kind of wireless site survey do I need?
Answer: Many companies charge $2.5K-10K for an onsite site survey. Some vendors will provide this for free if you plan to buy their products. For schools, we’ve found that predictive software tools work extremely well and are accurate within 5-10% of the real world environment. See our blog article “how to eliminate the 10K site survey” for more details.
Question: What things do I need to provide and do to complete a wireless site survey or get help with a wireless site survey?
Answer: You’ll need:
Floor plans- Include # of floors per building (Cad format, jpg, jpeg, or gif)
Building Dimensions (tip: google earth can measure building dimensions)
Study your floor plans- review the floor plans and mark the areas that may be high user density areas (large class rooms, Lecture Halls, etc.)
Question: Can the same wireless lan solution address indoor and outdoor wireless coverage?
Answer: Yes, and for management and security purposes, we strongly recommend using a centralized platform that covers both indoor areas and outdoor areas. Otherwise you’re stuck with maintaining two separate systems which we can tell you from our customer’s experience is not ideal.
Answer: Outdoor areas are more complex in design because there are a lot of factors to consider. But in 80% of the cases we’ve seen mesh is not necessary for outdoor areas. Most schools want to cover courtyards or areas outside of coffee shops, libraries, bookstores etc. This can be done by installing outdoor antennas and cables on indoor access points. Mesh may be necessary to cover sports fields, press boxes, and areas that are too far from buildings to be covered with an omni-directional antenna. We recommend getting a wireless consultant for help with outdoor coverage, look for someone with campus wifi design experience.
Philip is the founder and CEO of SecurEdge Networks. He’s the consummate strategist and frequently writes for the strategy blog. You can follow him at @philipwegner