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Crash Course: Wireless Site Surveys

Before setting up your wireless LAN, you must map it out. But as WLANs become more complex, so do those pesky wireless site surveys. We give you a rundown of

Site-survey planning for wireless LANs has never been simple. And with new wireless features like multiband operation (802.11b/g-2.4 GHz, 802.11a-5 GHz and so on), wireless intrusion-detection and -prevention systems, voice over WLAN and location services, it's gotten even tougher.

   

The site-survey process, which helps determine the placement and configuration of wireless APs (access points) in your WLAN, has been used primarily for gauging adequate coverage and avoiding channel overlap. But today's WLANs must meet specific requirements, such as providing high-performance bandwidth for each user, reliability and fault tolerance, voice support using ubiquitous high-signal-strength coverage, and overlapping coverage of three or more APs.

Site surveys also help measure performance, troubleshoot problems and mitigate interference, so you'll be conducting them regularly to support changes made to your wireless environment. Conventional manual site surveys, done by installers armed with pen and paper, are too time-consuming and grueling for many enterprises, but there are three types of software-based WLAN site survey tools to simplify the job.

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