AccessAgility Blog

How Much Does A WiFi Site Survey Cost?

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 8, 2022 3:07:48 PM / by Blog Team

Blog Team

Several years ago, we wrote about budgeting for a wireless project. Specifically, we wrote about a common question we get from prospective clients related how to budget for the design, installation, and post installation phases of a wireless project? As a follow up to that post, We are going to answer the question we always get next, which is how much does a WiFi survey cost?

But first, what is WiFi survey? Simply stated, a complete WiFi site survey is anything that needs to be done and documented to determine the number of access points and install location of access points to meet design and installation requirements . These things include but are not limited to the following:

Pre-Installation WiFi Survey and Design:

RF Survey - Passive or Predictive Survey to determine access point count and locations.

Telecom Closet Survey - Determine where telecom/data closets are located to plan for switches, controllers, servers, and any other equipment that needs to be installed for wireless network.

Cabling Path Survey - Plan cabling path from access point install location to closets. This could be a combination of copper cabling from access point to the closet and fiber cabling for other equipment and closet to closet connectivity.

Electrical Survey - Check for power budget for new switches and equipment in telecom closets and entire building/area.

Rack Space Survey - Related to telecom closet survey but focused on space availability in rack or cabinet for equipment (switches, patch panels, servers, etc). 

Switch Port and Power Over Ethernet (POE) Budget Survey - Available switch ports and POE budget for new access points. Newer access points require more power than older switches can support and might require switch upgrades.

Installation Mounting Methodology Survey - Antenna types and mounting methods for access points. Also if a lift or special equipment will be needed to reach installation locations safely.

Core Drilling Survey - Any special requirements to get cabling from floor-to-floor or building to building as needed.

Safety / Hazardous Material Survey - Removal of asbestos or other hazardous materials

Site Prep Survey - Removal of old cabling, equipment, or access points.

As you can see a complete pre-installation survey and design is much more comprehensive and involved than just access point / wireless only survey and design. Without knowing a lot more about the installation site the access point design will most likely be incorrect or not feasible due to other items that impact implementation.

When budgeting for this type of complete WiFi site survey it is important to understand that it most likely requires the engineering team to visit the site and walk the entire building and take detailed notes and photos. While a basic predictive modeling survey can be done remotely and is good enough for budgeting for the just the access point count required,  it will not capture all the information needed for a full design and install and post install testing plan.

WiFi Site Survey Budget

A rough budget is $2000/10k square feet space for a predictive survey + on site passive survey + capturing the other pre-installation survey items above.

This estimate is for the things a WiFi engineer and project manager “knows” will happen on most projects (see above list). The unknown is the degree to which site survey costs are impacted by the building type. For example, most engineers will assume that the site survey and implementation can be done during business hours. But sometimes, all work must be done after business hours. This site requirement was unforeseen and couldn’t be realized (by anyone) until the project was underway.

How Do You Protect Yourself From A Runaway WiFi Project Budget?

Here are some tips on maximizing your budget and limiting your exposure when it comes to site survey and design.

  1. Use an experienced WiFi specialist. Check for wireless related certifications (CWNP, Cisco, HPE/Aruba, Meraki, other vendors). There are a lot of "WiFi engineers" out there but they aren’t all good.  You will always be able to find someone who can do the work for a little cheaper but inevitably, you will “get what you pay for”.
  2. Avoid only using the equipment manufacturer do a "free" wireless survey. They usually will only be able to provide a survey based on rules of thumb or use only predictive survey method. They will almost never be collect the other information needed for a complete design and installation plan.
  3. Budget for the unknown. You can and should include a contingency fund for the things that are unknown, especially if you plan to rely only on a basic predictive survey before install. We always advise clients to do this because if you need extra funds for additional access points or networking equipment it’s there for you. If you don’t need it, no harm done.
  4. The most important piece of advice we can give related to WiFi site survey and design costs is to choose a consultant that you trust because no matter which access point technology/brand you choose, something is going to come up during the course of the installation phase that will require resources on site for add/move/changes. Partnering with someone who has your back can make the difference between a good install experience and a bad (and potentially costly) install experience.

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Topics: WiFi

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