Wi-fi is undoubtedly an unsung hero in the modern world. When it works no one gives it second thought but when our Zoom calls don’t connect right away, panic ensues.

Like most things in life, periodic maintenance and inspection is required to keep networks running at peak performance, and always ready for the onslaught of data demands placed on them by modern work environments.

RF (radio frequency) environments are tricky to quantify because they are invisible to us. Yet, providing a clear and usable RF environment is necessary for great network performance.

There are four primary wi-fi surveys that help troubleshoot and tune your network, and we’ve shared them below.

Alamon Enterprise Technical Services - Wireless Surveys
Alamon Enterprise Technical Services - Wireless Surveys

Wi-Fi Surveys

Predictive Design / Survey

Modern Wi-fi design tools allow us to simulate the installation and create a virtual model of how Wi-fi will propagate in the space. With accurate floor plans and a bit of knowledge about the environment, a deployment can be designed with great accuracy including projected channel plans, AP mounting heights, power levels and antenna types. For general office spaces and outdoor installations, predictive designs have a high accuracy rate.

While they are a great tool, predictive designs cannot account for local RF interference. Because of this, predictive designs tend to be the first in a series of steps to great Wi-fi.

Pre-Deployment Survey

For more difficult environments such as warehousing and manufacturing, a pre-deployment survey will provide much more accurate results than a predictive design. These types of spaces often include equipment and construction features that are hard to model accurately. A pre-deployment survey places a physical AP in each planned installation location to gather actual RF data to account for tricky areas.

Because data is collected onsite, full spectrum RF analysis can be performed and true interference levels can be measured.

Passive Survey

The passive Wi-fi survey is the most versatile tool of them all. It can be used to troubleshoot an environment and show gaps in coverage or elucidate interference and channel plan issues, but a passive survey is also great for performing annual ‘health checks’ on wireless networks and will show changes to the environment since the last survey activity. As ‘passive’, this survey listens – to everything. Any RF that can be ‘heard’ by the survey tools will appear as reporting data and can be analyzed.

Performing regular passive Wi-fi surveys, whether for troubleshooting or as a checkup is the best tool to ensure your users always have the coverage and throughput they need.

Active Survey

In addition to all the features of a passive survey, the active survey adds a client connected to the host network in order to actively ping a selected gateway. This is great tool for troubleshooting client dropouts and connection loss issues and gives a good idea of expected client bandwidth throughout the site.

Whatever your environment or need, wi-fi surveys are an essential tool in the network administrator’s toolbox. Whether you are planning a new installation or in need of troubleshooting help on an existing network, reach out to Alamon ETS for assistance with wireless surveys and helping maximize your wi-fi performance.

About Alamon ETS

Enterprise Technical Services (ETS) is a network infrastructure services provider specializing in project management, logistics and installation. We serve enterprise corporations throughout the U.S., and deliver projects as simple as possible, but as complex as necessary.