Preparing for a Wireless Network – infrastructure design and installation

Preparing for a Wireless Network – infrastructure design and installation

Preparing for a Wireless Network – infrastructure design and installation 150 150 Simon Randall

Implementing
a wireless network can be a straightforward and painless process, it just
requires an appropriate level of planning. 
Wi-Fi networks are typically added on to existing wired infrastructure
to allow for internet /network connection. 
This means that the underlying network topology will remain the same,
although it may need to be up-scaled if the Wi-Fi network is being installed to
accommodate an increase in traffic, rather than just to provide an alternative
means of accessing a company network. 

Start by putting the
right team in place

Obviously
the IT team will be the linchpin of the implementation, but it should always be
remembered that the proposed network is to serve the needs of the business and
to ensure this happens it is very advisable to have representation from other
areas of the business, at least from business area managers.  If they are kept in the loop at the very least
they can take ownership of keeping their teams informed.

Create a project roadmap
based on the following criteria

On site surveys

At this
point, it’s worthwhile recapping what Wi-Fi actually is.  Wi-Fi is based on radio technology.  Because Wi-Fi signals are transmitted through
the atmosphere, they need to be powerful enough to cope with interference from
various sources, in particular weather and other Wi-Fi networks.  Signals work best in clear spaces and while
they can generally withstand minor obstacles, such as lamp-posts (albeit usually
weakened), they do not normally have enough strength to transmit through very thick
walls, metal concrete or metal and do not bend around corners. 

IT team canvas users


By the
time you come to the planning stage, the IT team should have already carried out
usage questionnaires with employees to determine how they are likely to use the
network. The results of this can then be used to decide what security and
software measures will have to be implemented. This is especially with regard
to BYOD, as it’s likely there will be a large variety of handsets and tablets
that require managing.

Develop the system
architecture

This
should encompass everything from the mobile devices which can/will be used, to
the servers with which they will ultimately connect and the support services
which will keep everything running smoothly.

It’s also
worth bearing in mind how future proof your network is likely to be. We all
know that technology moves at an incredible pace, so ask your engineers about
the lifespan of the network. These are generally somewhere between 5-10 years
and the physical infrastructure makes up the backbone of the organization’s IT
network.

At the
moment, there are a few things to consider:

·        
Likelihood
of physical infrastructure being deployed to the cloud

·        
Bandwidth
and how high it’s likely to reach, especially if collaboration and streaming
video will be widely used

Although
it may be tempting to design the infrastructure and then look for devices which
fit into it, it’s usually better to start with the mobile devices and work
backwards.  The reason for this is that
the mobile devices are going to be the end-users’ gateway to the network and
for the project to be a long-term success, it is crucial that these devices are
as close a fit to their needs as they can be. 

Begin the RFP process

While
price alone should never be the deciding factor, it’s worth making a point of
explicitly checking for extra costs such as training, consultancy, support and
further development work.  You will need
to decide if you want the entire contract handled by one provider or if you are
happy to split it between different providers for each aspect of the service.

Look for a network
provider

Again
price alone is not a reliable guide to service. 
Look for coverage (quality as well as quantity), speed, reliability
capacity, latency and flexibility as well as quality support.

Test your solution
thoroughly

Thoroughly
means in the field as well as in the lab. 
It means having a clear test plan which details what needs to be tested
and how and the minimum standards for the test to be considered a success.  It also means being prepared to refine and
retest for as long as is necessary until these requirements are met. 

Testing
should include:

·        
Heavy
traffic

·        
Challenging
conditions (weather/interference)

·        
Speed

·        
Reliability
(soak testing)

·        
Ability
to reroute (in the event of component failure)

·        
Functionality
and usability testing.

Create, document and
publish policies of use.

While much
of the acceptable usage policy will follow on from the documents which have
already been created for your wired network, the nature of mobile devices is
such that it is likely to be worth updating them.  In particular, users will need to be reminded
of the security implications relating to the misuse of mobile devices.  If you intend to operate a Bring Your Own
Device (BYOD) environment, then it’s crucial that users understand clearly how
their personal devices will be integrated into the network and also that
although they may own the device, they do not own the data.

Check that your asset
management policy caters for mobile devices

It’s sad,
but probably true, to say that if you plan to hand out mobile devices to your
employees, unless they’re sure that these will be effectively tracked, at least
some of them will disappear.

Prepare self-service
support

Limit your
support calls by making sure there are plenty of self-help options readily
available in an obvious place.

Prepare for successful
deployment

If issuing
mobile devices, ensure that all devices are equipped with all necessary
software and correctly configured. 
Register them with the network provider and test each device before
handing it out to ensure it is working as intended.  When the users are given the devices, make
sure they are given training on how to use them.

Go live with pilot users

Monitor
their progress and if need be make adjustments before full roll out.






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