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Performing A Manual WiFi Site Survey

Many times when I'm at a customer site, the client will suddenly request a wireless site survey. I don't always carry WiFi site survey tools with me, so I show customers what can be done with tools they have on hand. In this video, I demonstrate this "longhand" basic wireless site survey methodology.

Those who don’t have WiFi survey tools can use this methodology for site surveys as well as basic wireless troubleshooting. At the same time, those who do have WiFi survey tools can also benefit by using this system to compare its results with their wireless statistics.

Before diving into the survey, you should figure out ahead of time if you plan on measuring the access point or the end-user statistics.

In this demonstration, I chose to use my Samsung phone as my wireless client because (like most smartphones) its radio and antenna are not that great. Be aware of your wireless tools' antenna and radio specifications. If their antennas and radios are way too sensitive and powerful, then you may think you should have wireless coverage when in fact you do not.

I used iPerf to simply measure throughput, but you could easily measure packet loss and jitter by using UDP and the –u option. Of course you can use FTP, HTTP, your softphone or any other application. The key here is to ensure you have a measureable statistic. For example, most FTP clients report total bytes transferred and transfer time.

If you are using a real application with no real statistics, you might want to consider capturing packets or using the information from the access point for your specific session, if supported. When I did my first few surveys, I enabled the logging option in my Telnet client and captured everything from the access point.

There are many variations on this same theme and the goal of this short video is to give you ideas which you can change for your specific environment. In some cases, I prefer to use a variety of laptop, phone, and tablet measurements, which you can easily do using the same methodology.