A WiFi project begins with finding a consultant to help with the initial design process. The first meeting can be a phone call or an email, and it is used to obtain a better understanding of the requirements and constraints of a project. In order for the meeting to be as effective as possible, think about the following things before contacting your WiFi consultant.
Use a WiFi design checklist to help you prepare for building, restoring, or updating a wireless network.
1. Do you have floor plans available?
Floor plans and approximate scaling information will most likely be requested before the design process even begins. Supplying your consultant with these resources will allow for the planning and design of the WiFi environment to be as accurate as possible without the consultant visiting your facility.
2. Are there any parts of your facility that should not have WiFi coverage?
Some facilities might have areas that will not require WiFi coverage. If this is the case for your facility, think about what areas should be excluded from the scope of work. Providing this information to your consultant will help in accurately estimating how long a survey will take and the amount of hardware needed.
3. What type of WiFi do you need: Employee/internal only, guest WiFi, or both?
Business class equipment can be configured to allow for both internal and guest WiFi on the same network using partitioning. Equipment configurations keep internal systems secure from guest users. If desired, a separate network for each user type can also be created to include separate Internet connections.
4. Do you have a specific timeline in mind?
Business class WiFi requires more time in the planning and installation stages than residential projects. While a typical residential WiFi/Internet install can be completed by your local telephone/Internet service provider in a few hours, a business class WiFi implementation usually requires weeks, or even months, of planning with equal amounts of time for installation.
5. Is there existing WiFi in your facility?
If your facility has an existing wireless network, the details of it need to be addressed during the site survey. Knowing what technology is currently being used, how many devices and users the network supports, the locations of existing APs, and what the network is used for will help your consultant plan for new/upgraded network.
If your space is a multi-tenant building, it is very likely that your neighbors above, below, and adjacent to you have WiFi already. The details of how this will impact your future network will be determined during the survey phase.
6. What will the WiFi be used for?
The design of a wireless network will depend on what the WiFi will be used for. Since different environments have different needs, it is important for you and your consultant to discuss what type of network you will need.
- Basic connectivity / Internet access (email, web browsing, chat)
- High speed connectivity (video chat, video classrooms, heavy file sharing)
- Voice WiFi + Data simultaneously
- High user density (conference rooms, training rooms, arenas, stadiums)
7. What kind of client devices will be connecting to the WiFi?
Different environments will have different devices accessing the WiFi. While an office building will have a lot of laptops and mobile devices, a warehouse facility might only have handheld scanners connecting to the WiFi.
8. Are there any compliance requirements?
Compliance issues depend on the type of business that the wireless network is being designed for. Different business will have different legislative requirements, such as HIPAA requirements for medical institutions and PCI requirements for retail establishments.
9. Redundancy/System Up Time Requirements?
While always desired, 100% up-time is not always possible due to equipment failures and maintenance windows. Downtime can be minimized by installing additional equipment for redundancy. Knowing requirements for up time in the beginning of the project will help your consultant plan a network architecture to meet your needs.
10. Who will be responsible for operating the wireless network?
Design and installation is just the beginning. Keeping the WiFi network operational typically is not a trivial task. Sharing information about resources available to operate the network can help dictate the amount of training or post-install support that might be needed.