Telecom Site Survey and Design
A telecom site survey (sometimes called an on-site survey or network survey) is the process of planning and designing an entire network to provide a solution that will deliver the required: cabling, network components (routers, switches, servers, etc), wi-fi coverage, data rates, network capacity, roaming capability and Quality of Service necessary to support your business requirements. The survey usually involves a site visit and requires analysis of building floor plans, visual inspection of the facility, and usage of site survey tools. In addition, interviews with IT management and the end users of the wire-line and wireless networks are important to determine the design parameters for any network.
The ultimate goal of a site survey is to supply enough information to determine the number and placement of wired and wireless access points that provides adequate coverage throughout the facility. In most implementations, “adequate coverage” means support of a minimum data rate.
The need and complexity of a site survey will vary depending on the facility. For example, a small three room office may not require a site survey. This scenario can probably get by with a single wireless access point located anywhere within the office and still maintain adequate coverage. If this access point encounters RF interference from another nearby wireless LAN, you can likely choose a different channel and eliminate the problem. When it comes to wired infrastructure, it may be as simple as having a few wall-plates with Ethernet ports.
A larger facility, such as an office complex, apartment building, hospital, or warehouse, generally requires an extensive site survey. When conducting a site survey, consider these general steps:
- Obtain a facility diagram. Before getting too far with the site survey, locate a set of building blueprints. If none are available, prepare a floor plan drawing that depicts the location of walls, walkways, etc.
- Visually inspect the facility. Be sure to walk through the facility before performing any tests to verify the accuracy of the facility diagram. This is a good time to note any potential barriers that may affect the configuration of LAN cabling or propagation of RF signals. For example, a visual inspection will uncover obstacles such as physical firewalls, plenum ceilings, etc. or to RF such as; metal racks and partitions, items that blueprints generally don’t show.
- Identify user areas. On the facility diagram, mark the areas of fixed and mobile users. In addition to illustrating where mobile users may roam, indicate where they will not go. You might get by with fewer less wall plates or access points if you can limit or rule out physical or roaming areas.
- Determine preliminary wired and wireless access point locations. By considering the location users and range estimations of the LAN products you’re using, approximate the locations of access points that will provide adequate coverage throughout the user areas. Plan for some propagation overlap among adjacent access wireless points, but keep in mind that channel assignments for access points will need to be far enough apart to avoid inter-access point interference.
- Verify access point locations. This is when the real testing begins. Many wireless LAN vendors, including Cisco, Symbol, and Proxim, provide free RF site survey tools that identifies the associated access point, data rate, signal strength, and signal quality. You can load this software on a laptop or PocketPC and test the coverage of each preliminary access point location. Alternately, you could use a handheld site survey tool available from several different companies.
- Document findings. Once you’re satisfied that the planned location of your network elements and access points which will provide adequate coverage, identify them on the facility diagrams and recommended mounting locations. Our or any installers will need this information. Also, providing a log of landline access points, signal readings and potentially supported data rates near the outer propagation boundary of each access point as a basis for future redesign efforts.
Our solutions cover the following components:
- LAN/WAN Design
- Data Center/Core Networking
- Wireless LAN
- Wired LAN Solutions
- Quality of Service (QoS)
- Switching and Distribution