Think about all of the outdoor places you visit and events you attend, how often did you expect there to be available Wi-Fi? For example, when you're at an outdoor concert venue, at a café, or even walking between classes on a college campus, I'm sure one of the first things you did was make sure you could connect to the wireless, and like most people if you couldn't get on or it was slow you would instantly become annoyed.
The truth is, there is a growing gap between user expectations and the ability for businesses and organizations to support those demands; this is especially true when it comes to outdoor wireless networks.
Many colleges and healthcare facilities today rely on outdoor wireless networks for their everyday operations. While to some, the idea of creating an outdoor wireless environment that doesn’t include a plethora of cables and wires seems daunting, it can be done.
There are a lot of options out there to help you successfully design and deploy an outdoor wireless network, however, there are some essential best practices you should be aware of that will help you when upgrading your outdoor connectivity.
Know your Devices
With the wide variety of devices used today, this is not the easiest of tasks, especially if you have a large amount of people connecting to the network.
When in doubt, assume all types of devices will be used including but not limited to, laptops, tablets, smartphones, handheld gaming consoles, cameras, video equipment, E-readers, and wearables like fitbits and apple watches.
Taking all of these devices into consideration allows you to plan accordingly for proper reception and transmission. In addition, knowing your devices allows you to consider necessary encryption and security measures for your wireless network as well.
Go Big or Go Home?
I know the consensus for most projects is to have more than enough rather than too little. Over planning your network to account for numerous devices and people accessing your network will help with under-performance.
Being too limited in your scope can result in limited accessibility. Proper planning can save you from having to quickly reassess and expand your network.
It's critical to have a proper assessment of your current environment completed before you deploy. Performing a quality wireless site survey will ensure you deploy the right solution for your specific needs.
Google Earth is Awesome
Determining the proper coverage area can seem like a legitimate challenge, but with the help of Google Earth, you can lay out your design to figure out the total area in which you need coverage.
You can get accurate measurements for your outdoor wireless network design to ensure the coverage area is sufficient for your needs.
RF planning tools aids in ensuring your outdoor wireless network is capable of handling the devices and applications that will be on your network.
Coverage is important, but it is possible to have a large coverage area with little service capacity. Utilizing RF planning tools allows you to view the transmitter locations and parameters of your wireless systems for optimal results.
There May be Challenges
Outdoor networks are no doubt impressive, but there are potential challenges you may face from structures, mother nature, or the environment. We've all been in a building that has spotty coverage because of the thickness of the concrete walls, and an outdoor network is no different.
Signals can struggle to travel through concrete, while heavy winds, rain, and trees can also affect signal strength.
Most of these issues can be predicted and you can plan around them. Not that a challenge won’t arise, but addressing any potential problems from the beginning can make a big difference when it comes to your wireless performance.
Choosing the right wifi service provider that can ensure you have not only the coverage, but the network reliability and strength you need is tied directly to your overall success.
If you have any questions about your current outdoor wireless network design, please contact us here, we'd love to talk about how we can help you succeed.