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Deployment Guide: Higher Education

Technical Guide

Site Survey

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Site Survey Guide

TableofContents
Introduction .................................................................................................................................3 TypesofSiteSurveys ....................................................................................................................3 SurveyRequirements....................................................................................................................5 EquipmentRequired.....................................................................................................................7 PerformingtheSurvey..................................................................................................................8 GettingStarted .............................................................................................................................9 Summary .................................................................................................................................... 11 WiFiTools.................................................................................................................................. 11

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Site Survey Guide

Introduction
Thepurposeofthisguideistoserveasanintroductionandeducationonthebasics,thevalues,andbest practicesassociatedwithperformingWiFisitesurveys.WewilldescribetheprocessXirrususesforsite surveysanddemonstratehowthesesameprocessescanbeusedbyanyonewithreadilyavailabletools. Poorlyperformedsitesurveyscanresultinnotonlycoveragegapsandreducedperformance,butalso increasedcostsassociatedwithidentifyingandresolvingtheseissuesafterthefact.Thegoalofanysite surveyistodeterminethenumberandlocationofaccesspoints(APs)requiredtomeetwirelessdesign goals(suchascoverage,performanceandusercapacity). Gettingthesitesurveyaccurateisjustasimportantasselectingtheproperhardware.Ifthesitesurveyis toooptimisticandcallsfortoofewaccesspoints,thefinalinstallationwillyieldpoorcoverageand/or performance.Thisinturnwillrequireafollowupsurveytodeterminewhatchangesmayberequiredtothe numberorlocationofdeployedAPs.TheendresultwillbeincreasedcostsnotonlyinadditionalAPs,but alsotheassociatedcostsofpullingcable,equipment,contractors,andinstallationeffort.Conversely,ifthe surveyistooconservative,moreaccesspointsthanareneededwillbespecifiedandagainmoneyiswasted onunneededequipmentandlaborcharges.

Types of Site Surveys


Active vs. Predictive Therearetwoprimarymethodsinwhichsitesurveyscanbeperformed:ActiveandPredictive.Activesite
surveys,alsocalledlivesurveysuseanactivelytransmittingaccesspointandaWiFienabledlaptoporother tooltomeasureWiFisignalstrengthintheactualenvironmenttodeterminehowmanyandwhereaccess pointsarerequired.Predictivesitesurveysusesoftwarepackagestoemulatetheenvironment.Floorplans ofthesiteareimportedandallowtheusertoassignattenuationvalues(howmuchRFenergyisabsorbed) foreachwallandobjectinthebuilding(mosttoolstypicallyhaveadatabaseofmaterialstochoosefrom), theapplicationwillthenpredictthenumberandlocationofaccesspointsrequiredtomeetthedesired coverageandperformancegoals. Active site surveysmeasurestherealperformanceofeachaccesspointlocationandinnatelytakes intoaccountthephysicalcharacteristicsandcontentsofthebuilding.Thereisnoneedtoestimatethe densityofthewallsorfloors.Anactivesitesurveyisalsoabletodetectanysourcesofinterferenceand applythisinformationtodetermineSNR(signaltonoiseratio).Thistypeofsurveynotonlyprovidesthe mostaccurateperformanceinformationforeachaccesspoint,italsoallowsforthephysicalinspectionof thesitetoassuretheaccesspointcanbemountedintheselectedlocation.Thedownsideofthistypeof surveyisitislaborintensive,requiresphysicalaccesstothebuildinganddemandsahigherlevelofRF knowledgetoperform. Predictive site surveysmaytakelesstimebutstillrequireseattimeinfrontofacomputerprogram versusthelegtimeneededforanactivesurvey.Asthenameimpliesthesoftwareperformsapredictive analysisofthebuilding,oncefloorplansareimporteditusesindustrydefinedattenuationvaluesforwalls, 100508 3

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doors,windows,etc.ThedifficultyhereisthecommonGIGO(GarbageInGarbageout)problemassociated withtryingtoaccuratelymodelthecontentsandmakeupofthebuilding(especiallyonesthathavechanged orremodeledovertime).

SurveyComparison
SurveyEffort AccessPointPlacement WirelessCoverage WirelessPerformance CablingandEquipment Installation Active(live)Survey Higher ExactLocationschosen Measured/Known Measured/Known TypicallyAccurate Simplified PredictiveSurvey PotentiallyLower Finallocationsstillneedbechosen Predictive:MayrequiremoreAPs Estimated:MayrequiremoreAPs Mayrequirecablestobeaddedormoved MayrequiremovingAPsoraddingmoreAPs

Remotevs.OnSiteSurvey

AlthoughthefollowingdiscussiongoeshandinhandwithActivevs.Predictivesurveys,itisimportantto identifytheadditionalvaluebeyondRFanalysisofanonsiteactivesurveyvs.apredictivesoftwareanalysis. Thekeypointistounderstandthevalueofwalkingthefacilityasthesurveyisperformedandknowing whattolookfor. Theactivesurveynotonlyprovidesthemostaccurateperformanceinformationforeachaccesspoint,italso allowsforthephysicalinspectionofthesitetoassuretheaccesspointcanbemountedintheselected location.IfAPplacementisbasedjustonthemarkingonafloorplantheactualinstallersmayfindthe locationunacceptableforinstallation,asitmaynotbephysicallymountableatthepredictedlocation. Aphysicalwalkthroughoftheinstallationsiteenablesidentificationandaddressingofthefollowingtypesof issuesbeforeinstallationday,wheredelayscanbecostly: Identifying AP locations Thisiswillgreatlyassistthosepullingdata/powercablingandavoidcostly changes. Physical restrictionsAretheremountingissuesthatpreventanAPbeinginstalledwhereitwouldbest belocated,suchaslighting,airconditioningducts,sprinklers,appropriatemountingpoints,etc.Italso allowsinstallerstoidentifyalltoolsandanyspecialmountinghardwarerequiredfortheinstall. RF Interference issuesAretherenearbynon802.11devicesthatemitRFenergy(microwaveovens, medicalequipment,airconditioningunits,etc.)thatmayinterferewiththeproperoperationoftheAP?In addition,whatotherWiFinetworksarelocatedintheenvironment?Ifother5GHznetworksarenearby 100508 4

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thereistypicallysufficientavailablechannelstoavoidinterference,howeverwith2.4Ghz(11b/g)thereare only3usablechannelsandanearbynetworkalsousingthesecouldresultininterference.Atthispointthere shouldbesomediscussionbetweenITstaffstosetchannelsandpowertoavoidinterferencethatcould degradebothnetworksperformance. Aesthetic IssuesAretherecorporatepoliciesthatrestrictthelocation,color,shape,etc.,oftheAccess Point. Regulations/Codes/PoliciesAretheirspecificrulesthatthedeploymentmustconfirmto,suchasAC powerdistribution,cablingruns,RFpowerlimits,plenumrating,orotherissues.Arrivingonsitewith inappropriatecomponentscanaddexpensivedelays. Flexibility of environmentManyenvironmentsespeciallyschools,conferencecenters,warehouses, manufacturingfacilitiescanbeveryphysicallydynamic.Fromonedaytothenext,wallscanbemoved, equipmentshuffled,racksrearranged,etc.Avisualwalkthroughandonsitediscussioncanidentifyand addresstheseissuespriortotheinstallandavoidpostinstallcomplications. Bottom lineApredictivesurveyisofteneasiertoaccomplishbuthasthepotentialtomaketheactual installmorecomplexduetounknownsthatcouldbeencountered.Anactivesitesurveythatincludesa physicalwalkthroughismorecomplex,howeverwillmaketheinstallgosmootherbyidentifyingpotential issuesupfrontandultimatelyresultinamoresuccessfuldeployment.

Survey Requirements
Beforestartingasitesurvey,itisofcriticalimportancetodefinethepurposeofthesurvey.Itmayseemvery basictoincludethisasarequirement,howeveritisamazinghowmanysurveysareconductedwiththe focusonlyonRFcoverageandnoconsiderationgiventothereasonsforinstallingWiFiinthefirstplace. Thefollowingcomponentsshouldbeconsideredbeforeselectingavendororperformingasurveyasthey willhelpdeterminetheproductandsurveyrequirements. Business RequirementsWhatisthepurposeofadding/upgradingtheWiFiservices?Isthegoaltojust addWiFihotspots,connectivityintheconferencerooms,orisitabuilding/campuswidepervasiveWiFi servicethatprovidesseamlesscoverageandroamingthroughouttheenterprise.Theanswertothis questionwillhelpdeterminethevendors,productsandWiFiarchitectureyouselect. Application RequirementsBandwidthandQoScapabilitiesdefinetheproductspurchased,however minimumRFsignalstrengthmustalsobeconsideredforvoiceoverWiFisolutions.ThemajorityofWiFi phonevendorsrequirea68dBmRSSI(receivedsignalstrengthindicator)orstrongersignal.Surveyingto thislevelavoidshavingtoresurveyandaddAPs/cablingatalatertime. Security RequirementsAnothertopicoftenoverlookedduringasitesurveyissecurity.Controllingthe amountofRFenergytransmittedbeyondtheenterpriseboundaries(parkinglots,etc.)shouldalwaysbea consideration.WithproperAPplacement,powerlevels,anduseofdirectionalantennas,RFleakagecanbe minimized.ToclearlydefinetheedgeofRFcoverage,varypowerlevelsandrecordsignalstrengthreadings oninsideandoutsidewallsoffacility.DirectionalantennacanalsobeusedforRFshaping. 100508 5

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Coverage vs. CapacityMostvendorsofferseparatesurveyproceduresforcoverageorcapacity models.CoveragesurveysaredesignedtogenerateasolutionwiththeminimumnumberofAPsto guaranteeclientassociation.Capacitysurveysaredesignedtosupportlargernumbersofstationsandoffer higherdataratestoclients;thesetypicallygroupmoreAPsinasinglearea,resultinginsmallercellsand withmoreradiochoicesforclients.Theresultistypicallystrongersignalstrengthconnectionsforclients, whichresultsinhigherdatarates. Cell Size PlanningWiFiinthe5GHzband(802.11a/n)hasslightlysmallercellsthanWiFiinthe2.4GHz band(802.11b/g/n).Designfor5GHzanditwillprettymuchensurecoverageforall802.11a/b/g/nclients. LargercellssizescanreducenumberofAPsrequired,butcouldresultinclientconnectivityproblems. Choosing Between 2.4 GHz or 5 GHzBothbandsarecommonlydeployedinWiFinetworkstoday anditisstronglyrecommendedtoperformthesurveyforbothbands. Wireless Bridging (WDS) RequirementsWillAPtoAPwirelessbridgingbeused?Thisquestionmay comeupinoutdoordeployments,inwarehouseswhereintraAPdistancescouldexceed100metersoreven buildingtobuildinglinks.Aspartofthesurvey,examinepointtopointpathloss.Specialattentionshould bepaidtoanytreesorfoliageinthepathasseasonalgrowthcouldimpactthelink. Wired Infrastructure Dontoverlooktheexistingwiredinfrastructure,asitscapabilitiesorlackthereof canseverelyimpactWiFiperformance.Forexampleifdeploying802.11nWiFi,theuplinkswillrequire Gigabitlinks.VerifythecableplantandswitchesarecapableofGigabitEthernetorifawirednetwork upgradewillberequired.Inaddition,verifyAPpoweringoptions.IfPoEwillbeused,verifythatnewor existingPoEproductsprovidesufficientpower(802.3af,802.3at,orother)fortheWiFitobedeployed(for example802.11nrequiresincreasedpower). The 802.11n Site Survey Theintroductionof802.11nhasaddedsomeconfusionandcaveatstothe traditionalsitesurvey.802.11nisnotabouthighertransmitpower,butaboutbetterreceiversensitivity (abilitytolisten).802.11nrangeimprovementsrequire11nradiosatbothendsoftheconnectionthe stationandAccessPoint.Themajorityofnetworksdeploymentswillincludeamixofclienttypes(802.11n andnon802.11n)andcellsizesshouldthereforeremainthesame. Somerecommendationsforperforming11nsurveysinclude: Alwayssurveyforboth2.4/5GhzThisisthesameasfor802.11a/b/gsurveysandisrecommended sobothbandswillbeproperlysupported Usean802.11abgadapterforsitesurveyThisisrecommendedevenfor11nAPsassupportfor legacy802.11a/b/gdeviceswillcontinueforsometime Usean802.11abgnadapteronlyifallnetworkdeviceswillbe11ncapableAlthoughsome networksmaymeetthiscriteria,thevastmajorityofWiFinetworkswillbemixed11a/b/g/n environmentsforsometime

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Equipment Required
Thissectionidentifiesspecificequipment,tools,andsoftwareXirrusrecommendsforperforminga professionalqualitysitesurvey.

Array/APs/Radios:
UsethetypeofArrayorAPtobedeployed.Allsurveysshouldbeperformedusingproductsidenticalto thosethatwillbeinstalled;thisapproachhelpstoguaranteeinstalledcoveragematchesthatofthesurvey. Usingdifferentproductsforsurveyandproductioncouldresultinsignificantvariabilityinactualcoverage.

Support Equipment:
Multiplecopiesofthefloorplanshouldbeavailabletotrackmountinglocations,recordobstructions, andindicatemountingoptionsandgeneralnotetaking. SurveysshouldbeconductedwithArrays/APslocatedascloseaspossibletowheretheywillbe installed.XirrususestripodstolocateArrays.IfusingstandardAPs,itisrecommendtopolemountthem foreasierplacement. GeneralpurposeequipmentsuchasACextensioncords,Ethernetcabling,consolecables,ladders, flashlights,etc,shouldbeavailabletoassistonthesurvey. Acameraisdesirabletorecorduniquemountingobstaclessoappropriatemountscanbedefined. Someformoflocationidentifiers(e.g.stickers)toindicatewhereArray/APswillbeplaced.

Software/Firmware Tools
Alaptopwiththefollowingtoolswillberequiredforthesurvey: RFsurveytool,forexampleAirMagnetSurveyorsimilar.Alternativelyformoresimplesurveys,free toolsthatreadWiFisignalstrengthcanbeused.TheXirrusWiFiMonitorgadgetisafreetoolthatcan beusedandisavailableathttp://www.xirrus.com/library/wifitools.php. OptionallysomeformofRFmonitoringtoolthatwillidentifynearbyAPsandperformSpectrumAnalysis toidentifypotentialnoisesources.TheXirrusWiFiArrayhasthesecapabilitiesbuiltinandcanbe leveragedduringthesurveyprocess.

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Performing the Survey


ThissectiondescribesproceduresusedbyXirrustoperformasitesurvey.Usingthismethodologyand readilyavailableWiFitools,anITadministratorwithamoderatedegreeofWiFiknowledgecanperforma reasonablyaccuratesurveyoftheirown. Aspreviouslydiscussed,thesitesurveyisoneofthemostcrucialstepsinasuccessfulWiFinetwork deployment.WithmanytechniquescommonlyusedforWiFisitesurveysandthemanymodesof 802.11a/b/g/n,ensuringthesurveyisdonerightismoreimportantthanever.Apoorlyperformedsite surveydoesnotonlyimpactyounetworktoday,itcanresultinacostlyredesignwhenitstimetoupgrade to802.11n. Componentsofaprofessionalsitesurveyperformedbyvendorqualifiedindividualsshouldinclude: Completeonsitesurveyofallareastobecovered,usingsameproductsthatwillbedeployed. OnsiteRFspectrumanalysistoidentifypotentialinterferenceissues. PostsurveyanalysisandreportincludingcoveragemapsandRSSIvalues. PostinstallsurveytoconfirminstalledWiFiequipmentmeetsproposalrequirements. SignalStrength70dBmRSSI(orstronger)inallareastosupportfulldatarates SignalStrength68dBmRSSI(orstronger)inallareastosupportWiFivoicehandsets Clientshouldbeabletoseeatleast23radiosateverylocationthesesignallevels DiscussbusinessrequirementswithallwhohaveastakeintheWiFisolution Obtaindigitalfloorplansoffacilitytobecovered(e.g..jpg,.bmp,.png) Ensureaccesswillbeavailableonthedayofthesurveytoallarea,orarepresentativesubsetof area,thatistobecoveredbyWiFi

Recommended Site Survey Parameters


Before Arriving On-site


Tips Before Starting

Thissectionincludesanumberoftipsandrecommendationstohelpensureasuccessfulandaccurate survey. ItisagoodideatodeployasmanyArraysasreasonable,asthiswillsimplifythesurveyprocessand providesuperiorsurveymeasurementsvs.justusingjustoneArrayandcontinuallymovingand takingmeasurements. SetupTripod/ArrayinsuchawaythatitcorrectlyrepresentshowtheArraywillbemounted ForeachArrayandArraylocationduringthesurvey,useaseparateSSIDsospecificcoverageofeach Arraycanbeeasilydistinguished. SetArraybeaconrateto20msthisenablesthesurveysoftwaretoreceivemanymorebeacons. Afterthesurvey,dontforgettoresetbeaconratetodefault. Performsurveysunderworstcaseusageconditionsfortheenvironment,forexampledoorsclosed, curtainsdrawn,etc. Beawarethateachclient(laptop/WiFicard/driver)willhaveslightlydifferentreadings.Thisisa goodreasontobeconservativewhenperformingWiFisurveys. 100508 8

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Performthesurveyatboth5GHzand2.4GHz. Donotsurveyfor802.11nonlyunlessyouare100%surenolegacy(802.11a/b/g)clientswillbe supported(notcommon) Takemeasurementswhereuserswillbelocated:desks,tables,etc. Takemultiplereadingsineachroom ConsideradditionalsignalattenuationifArrays/APswillbeplacedinenclosuresoraboveceilings. Inmultifloorbuilding,checkforfloortofloorbleedthrough.Ifsignificant,planforcoverageof areasfromArrays/APsplacedabove/belowagivenfloor.Staggerthefinalplacementsofthe Arrays/APsbetweenfloorstoaccountforthis. Constantlyconsiderinstallationconcernswhensurveyingandprepareaccordingly Dontrush!

Getting Started
ThissectiondemonstratesaprocessthatXirrushasfoundtobesuccessfulandaccurate. 1. StartwithlaptopinafarcornerofthefacilityandtheArray/APplacednearby.MovetheArray/AP awayfromthelaptopuntilsignalstrengthdropsto,butnotunder,thespecifiedRSSIvalue(e.g.70)

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2. FindtheotheredgeofcoverageareabymovingthelaptopawayfromtheArray/APandsurveying untilthesignalstrengthdropsto,butnotbelow,thespecifiedsignalstrengthvalues.

3. ThisdefinesthecoverageareaforthesingleArray;identifythelocationbyrecordingthe informationonafloorplanandalsowithsomeformofphysicaltagging(e.g.stickersontheceiling) toidentifytheexactlocationwheretheArraywillbelocated.

4. Continuetorepeatthisprocessasyoumoveacrossthebuildinguntilthecompletefacilityhasbeen surveyed.Ifsurveyingamultistoryfacility,makesuretoverifyfloortofloorcoveragebefore turningmovingtheArray. 5. UsetheArraysRFMonitor/IntrusionDetectionfunction(orsimilartool)tofindotherAPsinthe area.AlldetectedAPsshouldbeidentifiedasknownorunknowndevicesandconsideredinthe overallsurvey. 6. UsetheArraysRFMonitor/SpectrumAnalyzerfunction(orsimilartool)toidentifysourcesof interference,either802.11cochannelinterferenceornon802.11noise.Onceanoisesourceis identified,defineaplanforinterferenceavoidance.Insomecases,discussionswithneighboringWi

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FinetworksITstaffshouldbesetuptoarrangeforchannelplanningandpowersetting coordination.

7. Finally,sharecompletesurveyinformationwithallstakeholders.Discusscoveredareas,RSSIvalues, weakspotsandindicatehowmanyradiosareavailabletomobileusersthroughoutthefacility.This lastpartiskeyaswerecommendatleast23strongradiostoallclientstoprovideresiliencyandto reducethepossibilityofasingleradiofailuretakingdownanyarea.

ExampleofActiveSiteSurveyresults(usingAirMagnettool)

Summary
PredictivesitesurveysmaybeacceptableinsomelesscomplexWiFideployments,howeverthelargerand morebusinesscriticalyourWiFiprojectis,themoreessentialanactivesitesurveybecomes.RollingoutWi Fiforalargeofficebuildingorcampusenvironmentmandatesanaccuratesitesurvey.Withlargeprojects, evenbeingoffbyasmallpercentagecouldresultinunacceptableadditionalcostsassociatedwithadditional equipment,cabling,andmanpowerrequirements. Anactive,onsitesurveyusingtriedandtruebestpracticemethodologiesisthemostaccuratetypeof surveyandXirrusstronglyrecommendsitbemadearequirementofanyWiFideployment. FinalThoughtYouarebettingthesuccessofyourWiFinetworkonthesurvey,andmaybeyourjob!

Wi-Fi Tools
Wi-Fi Basics FAQ www.xirrus.com/library/faq.php o Useful Wi-Fi FAQ for understanding the components, requirements and goals associated with performing a site survey Wi-Fi Tools www.xirrus.com/library/wifitools.php XirrushasassembledseveralusefulWiFitoolsfoundtobeofgreatvalueinplanning, deploying,andmanagingWiFinetworks. Xirrus Wi-Fi Reference Posters www.xirrus.com/posters o Educational/reference information on Wi-Fi o

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Xirrus Wi-Fi Widgets/Gadgets www.xirrus.com/library/wifitools.php o The Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor provides detailed information about surrounding Wi-Fi networks and your laptops current Wi-Fi connection, including SSID, signal strength, IP address, MAC address, security level, vendor, and network type. This free tool can be used to perform simple site surveys.

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Guide