Re-Engineering the wireless network, Always do a complete site survey!!!

Recently I had the opportunity to re-engineer the wireless network for large outside area that wraps around multiple buildings. The client’s existing wireless network didn’t provide a stable connection for the roaming clients. The client needed a wireless network that would provide a broad coverage area from each access point. The wireless network also needs to provide an environment suitable for fast moving clients to roam without dropping their connection.

I used the map of the existing access points to place the new Omni directional access points. To save money, I wanted to use the existing mounts and conduit of the existing access points. I also performed an inside and outside site survey to aid in the placement of the new access points.

The existing access points consisted of two pieces, the access point and the antenna. The access point was mounted in the cabinet with the network switch. The antenna was connected to the access point with coax. The new access points would require a Power over Ethernet (PoE) CAT5 cable run from the network switch to the access point on the outside of the building.

During my survey I found one location that was well over 600ft from the network switch, while another was about 400ft. I was surprised to see how far away the antennas were from the access point in the switch cabinet. Most of the new access points would be with in the 300ft limitation of Ethernet and be able to take advantage of POE, while a couple were not.

The new access points that I was planning on using had the ability to MESH, or use a wireless back-haul. Two access points would need to be connected to a local power source that was already close to the location I had selected.

Without a thorough survey, I wouldn’t have known about the use of Coax instead of CAT5, or the long distances of the two locations. I would have assumed they all had CAT5 and were all within the 300ft distance limitation. After the surveys I was ready to generate a parts list and the client was able to order the equipment.

I suggest you always do a thorough site survey while selecting the location of your access points, even when you are replacing existing access points with new ones. Both an inside and outside survey was needed before deciding on the location of the access points.

Have you had this challenge with the access point being too far from the network switch?
What did you do to overcome the distance limitation?

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About Scape

Over 10 Years in the networking field. Have worked in the Service provider and Enterprise environments. I have worked with Cisco, Foundry/Brocade, F5, Riverbed, Scientific Atlanta, Routers, Switches, Firewalls, Load Balancers, WAN Accelerators, DWDM, SONET, Multicast etc...

2 thoughts on “Re-Engineering the wireless network, Always do a complete site survey!!!

  1. Well I’ve been known to put a power injector in the middle of the long network runs as a work around, but I think you might already know this…

  2. I did think of that, but there wasn’t a power source in the middle of the run. There was a video camera next to the location so I was able to use the same power source.

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