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How to plan a Wi-Fi deployment: Performing a predictive site survey

By Joe Fraher in · Experts · March 16, 2015
In this series, we are looking at the process of determining what you need in your WLAN network

This blog is the second in a 3-part series summarizing these initial steps up to the point where you have gathered network needs and assessed RF environment conditions.

After gathering information about the goals and expected uses of the wireless network, use a planning tool, such as the Aerohive Wi-Fi planning tool in HiveManager or the free web-based Wi-Fi planner, to estimate how many APs are needed and where to put them. The following section summarizes how to use it. To learn more about the planner, see this online video and the HiveManager online Help

First, obtain image files (.png or .jpg format) of the blueprints or floor plans for each site and import them into the planner. If such files are unavailable, you can use the Google Maps tool integrated into the planner and draw the floor plans yourself. HiveManager refers to these as maps, which are organized within folders.

Next, use the embedded drawing tools to add various types of walls, doors, and windows to the maps. Take your time to draw these objects carefully and identify the various wall types you include because the more accurate and detailed a map is, the more accurate the planner can be at predicting signal attenuation and determining the ideal locations to put APs. 

After that, choose the type of AP you intend to install and the type of coverage you want to provide (basic connectivity, high speed connectivity, voice, or location tracking). Then use the automatic placement feature to predict good locations for installing the APs and the estimated coverage they will provide. Based on various factors such as the size or the area, the types of APs, the type of coverage, and the various objects drawn on the map, the planner determines the optimal number of APs and places AP icons at key positions on the map. You can then see the transmission power levels and channel reuse patterns they will use for both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands.

If you notice any gaps in coverage, or if the icons cannot be mounted where the planner placed them—perhaps for aesthetic or practical reasons—you can manually click an icon and drag it around on the map. You can also manually add more icons to a map and remove them, and the planner will automatically adjust all the Tx power levels and channel choices to fit the changes you introduce.

Check back for our final post in this series when we discuss the importance of a manual site survey and spectrum analysis.

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This is an excerpt from a longer guide titled Aerohive Retail Deployment Guide, Part 1: Planning, which is available here. A planning guide specifically for school environments is available here.

All Posts In This Series:

Reality Check: Your WLAN Is Already Supporting BYOD. Now What's Your Strategy?
BYOD Doesn't Have To Be A Challenge

1) How to plan a Wi-Fi deployment: Coverage and Capacity

2) How to plan a Wi-Fi deployment: Performing a predictive site survey

3) How to plan a Wi-Fi deployment: Performing a manual site survey

Joe Fraher is Sr. Developer of Integrated Solutions Documentation at Aerohive. He is a native San Franciscan, taught English for a number of years in San Francisco and Tokyo before transitioning into technical writing in 1999. He has been writing about Aerohive products for the past eight years and is looking forward to the next eight!

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