Connect802 is a nationwide RF engineering design consulting firm providing virtual, predictive Wi-Fi site survey services, product sales, and installation services.


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Meeting the Challenges of the
802.11 Wireless LAN Site Survey

An on-site WI-Fi site survey can not consider the nuances of today's sophisticated 802.11 Wi-Fi environment. To properly perform wireless site surveys it's necessary to integrate
3-dimensional RF CAD modeling and simulation to create an optimal Wi-Fi design BEFORE an engineer arrives to perform any on-site survey work.

The Connect802 Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design is a full wireless LAN design report that shows RF signal coverage, areas of concern, and provides a complete set of Installer's Working Plans.

This wireless LAN site survey report is based on your floorplans and not based on an engineer coming to your site to perform an on-site 802.11 survey.

 

 

The service name "Suite Spot Predictive Site Survey" is now "Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design"

 
 
 
 
On this page you'll read about how floorplans are converted into a 3-dimensiona RF CAD model and you'll be able to view 20-second video clips showing each step of the process.
This short video shows how designs were created for a warehouse, a retail store, and an outdoor truck yard. You'll get a good overview of how you can benefit from a Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design.
Joe Bardwell, Chief Scientist and President at Connect802 walks you through the details of creating a predictive design for a complicated warehouse and production facility.

What is a Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design?

Connect802 licenses a sophisticated RF design and engineering CAD system that can accurately model the RF signal characteristics of a building or campus environment. This is the same RF CAD modeling and simulation software that NASA uses to design radio communications systems in the space station. It's highly accurate.

  • The first step is to send a building floor plan to Connect802. Ideally, this is an AutoCAD drawing file but it can be a JPEG or BMP image as well. You can even scan and send a copy of a fire exit plan or cubicle layout plan; anything that presents a properly scaled representation of the site.
  • We import the floor plan into our LANPlanner™ software and assign RF attenuation values to the obstacles in the space. We then place RF radiators (antennas) into the plan and specify the capacity requirements of each area. Capacity and throughput considerations are critical to assuring proper coverage density to support the required end-user applications (like Voice over IP).
  • The LANPlanner software models the RF coverage patterns for the antennas and our engineer is able to place the right number of antennas in the right places to assure that coverage is complete. We can try using a different 802.11 antenna in one or more locations to see if high-gain or directional antennas will be effective in your space.
  • Coverage predictions take into consideration the 3-dimensional nature of RF propagation, assuring that no interference or unwanted bleed-over will appear from the floor above, or the floor below.

A Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design is a report, created by Connect802's RF engineering team, that develops, discusses, and presents your Wi-Fi wireless network design, signal coverage and areas of concern, and provides a complete set of Installer's Working Plans showing the location of each cable drop, access point, and antenna. The design is based on your site plans which you provide to Connect802 through an on-line File Submission System. Creating the design normally does not require an on-site visit.

Connect802 is the only RF design and consulting company that offers the Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design. Design plans or reports that you may get from other company's don't match the depth of content and engineering perspective that you get with the Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design. As Michael Connolly, Director of Business Development at SpeedWire Network Services said,

"The integration of hotspot access controllers and other design elements required careful attention to cable entry points, building floor construction, and the integration of the Wi-Fi system into the existing in-building Ethernet network infrastructure. The team at Connect802 was able to provide us with timely design plans and installation maps and we continue to maintain a successful business relationship with them"

Call Connect802 today and tell the receptionist the state from which you're calling. You'll be directed to your Connect802 regional sales representative who'll explain how to submit drawing files for your project. Submitting your files costs you nothing and allows Connect802 to prepare a price quote for your project. There's no reason not to find out how the Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design can be a key part of your WLAN deployment planning.

Why Is It Called "Connect EZ" ?

Connect802 is an authorized Wi-Fi wireless network equipment reseller representing a number of best-of-breed enterprise wireless LAN manufacturers. When you select Connect802 not only as your design consulting partner but as your equipment vendor as well we bundle your entire system into a complete package that we call a Connect EZ Turnkey Wireless LAN Bundle. The package includes the predictive RF CAD site survey design. That's why our design report is called the Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design.

Can Connect802 Provide Predictive Wi-Fi Site Survey Designs for Other Vendor's Equipment?

  • Cisco, Spectralink, Vocera Voice-over-WiFi site survey and capacity analysis
  • Trapeze, BelAir, Tropos Networks outdoor Wi-Fi site survey and IP infrastructure consulting and design
  • Aerohive, Bluesocket, Meru site survey and product comparison consulting
  • D-Link, NetGear, LinkSys site survey and product comparison consulting
  • NetGear site survey (and Aruba Networks integration)
  • Xirrus, XyXEL, ValuePoint site survey and product comparison consulting
  • Mesh Dynamics outdoor Wi-Fi site survey and design consulting

What's Wrong With a Conventional On-Site Survey?

Everyone knows that planning for an wireless LAN requires that the physical characteristics of the site must be taken into consideration. Planning and deploying a Wi-Fi wireless LAN requires a careful, professional assessment of the RF characteristics of the environment. RF signals don't propagate in circular paths (except in outer space!) so you can't draw overlapping circles on a floorplan and expect to get proper coverage.

Wireless 802.11 site surveys are often performed with a wireless consultant performing a site survey by having a professional, certified RF engineer go to the site with Wi-Fi test gear. The engineer tries to perform a proper wireless LAN site survey by figuring out where the best installation location for equipment might be. They then place the test transmitter in the proposed location and walk around using a site survey tool to measure RF signal strength. They then mark the 802.11 access point installation location on a site map. It doesn't matter whether it's a CWNA certified engineer, a BICSI RCDD wireless specialist, a Cisco certified Wireless LAN Support Specialist or LAN Design Specialist - if they create their design by walking around trying to figure out where to put the access points they're working at a major disadvantage. When a site survey engineer "walks around" they can't hope to create a completely optimal design. The design ends up being only as good as the engineer can "guess".

When performing a wireless site survey for a wireless 802.11 LAN the "walk around and figure out the design" method falls short of the requirements for today's complex wireless environments. Today the requirements go beyond simple 802.11b/g site surveys. Today's wireless LAN designs may incorporate requirements for 802.11b/g, 802.11a, and 802.11n. The RF implications of signal reflection and scattering which are detrimental to the 802.11a/b/g environment are beneficial and necessary for the 802.11n environment.

  • Walking around to perform an 802.11 wireless LAN site survey doesn't consider the impact of multiple transmitters in the final design. In a Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design, 3-dimensional coverage maps take all transmitters into consideration so that adjacent cell overlap, co-channel interference, and carrier-to-interference ratio can be properly evaluated.
  • An on-site Wi-Fi site survey can not consider all possible placement options for WLAN equipment. The on-site engineer makes a "guess" based on their experience and expertise. They do not have the ability to easily move their test transmitter to any location (they way a Connect802 RF CAD engineer can do in the virtual model). This means that an optimal design will probably not result from walking around.
  • And...

... a Predictive RF CAD Design is the only way
to design for a building that's not yet built!

"Super On-Site Survey Man"

He comes to your site ready to make his best guess at where radios should be installed. He's armed with the latest tools and technology. But... will he be able to figure out the design by walking around?

"I Thought You Could Draw Overlapping Circles To Represent Coverage Areas..."

RF signals do not propagate in circular paths unless you're in outer space! In a building, in the presence of reflective, absorptive, and scattering obstructions, signals create coverage cells with a shape that can't be easily determined by an on-site engineer. The predictive RF CAD model, however, allows the design engineer to see exactly where signal will, and won't go.
This is from an actual design created for a customer by a conventional Wi-Fi design company. The specs for the access point indicated that it would have a particular radius of coverage indoors. The designer drew overlapping circles to represent coverage zones. This design didn't work.
Shown here is the RF CAD model for a building with two active transmitters. The simulation clearly shows how the adjacent coverage cells interact. This is a view of signal propagation that's impossible to realize by walking around on-site trying to create a design.

What About Noise, Interference, and Existing 802.11 Transmitters?

The Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design allows the creation of the system design without requiring an on-site visit. When concerns for environmental noise, interference, or the effect of existing 802.11 access point transmitters arise we go to the installation site to perform RF spectrum analysis services - not to create a system design by walking around.

For conventional buildings (carpeted space with drywall partitions to the ceiling) and for specialized environments in which Connect802 has extensive experience (hospitals, hotels, schools and universities, warehouse and manufacturing, airports, convention centers) it's not necessary for a Connect802 engineer to perform any on-site work related to the design and layout of the Wi-Fi system. In these cases the only on-site work is related to RF spectrum analysis and the evaluation of noise and interference. For buildings with unique construction or usage characteristics it's sometimes necessary for Connect802 to perform a Calibration Survey prior to developing a 3-dimensional RF CAD model of the site. A Calibration Survey involves an on-site engagement during which our engineer measures the RF characteristics of previously unknown materials so that they can be accurately modeled. For example, in the past we have had to go on-site to ascertain the characteristics of a pallet of dry dog food, the skin and wing section of a KC-140 transport aircraft, a thick grove of birch trees, and one of the world's most famous guitar maker's manufacturing and warehouse facility; just to name a few.

  • We create an optimized design before any on-site RF Spectrum Analysis or Calibration Survey work is performed
  • The optimized design becomes the basis for any on-site requirements so our engineer doesn't have to 'guess' or 'walk around'
  • On-site time is focused on RF Spectrum Analysis so you're not paying for someone to 'walk around' and 'guess'
Connect802 will help solve the wireless data system puzzle!

The Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design
Value Proposition

Why you will choose Connect802 for your wireless LAN design:

Connect802 has been in business since 1994 which means that we bring a depth and breadth of experience and expertise to your project that you won't get from many of the recent start-up consulting and sales companies who have jumped on the Wi-Fi bandwagon.

We have applied the Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design to meet the demanding requirements of major companies, hospitals, schools and universities, and the Federal government for many years. Some of our major design projects have included:

  • Hospitals for the nation's largest private health care provider from Hawaii to Washington
  • Warehouse and manufacturing facilities for the world leader in pet care products
  • Containerized cargo facilities from the Coast of Florida to the Coast of Oregon
  • University campus, classroom, and dormitory Wi-Fi including some of the nation's largest and most well-known universities
  • Hotel Wi-Fi design for one of the most widely recognized family of hotel brands

The Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design will provide you with a cost-effective, easy-to-implement process to create an accurate, optimized Wi-Fi system design without guesswork and without the cost and inconvenience of an on-site, 'walk around' site survey engagement.

         
How you will decide that Connect802 provides the best solution:

Every company that sells wireless LAN equipment offers some form of WLAN site survey service. The typical engagement involves having someone come out with a test access point and make signal strength measurement. This approach is a "best guess" solution and often leads to post-installation problems. Other companies use general-purpose, 2-dimensional survey tools to create "heat maps" of signal strength. They don't measure signal-to-noise ratio, signal-to-interference ratio, and coverage cell overlap - they can't because they're measuring based on a single test transmitter.

Because Connect802 utilizes the most sophisticated, 3-dimensional RF CAD modeling and simulation software in conjunction with on-site RF spectrum analysis, channel and noise assessment, and design calibration you take advantage of the same professional engineering capabilities that are employed in the most demanding wireless network environments.

The key deciding factors in using a Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design are the optimization and accuracy of the design, the cost-effectiveness and convenience of the methodology (particularly when a building is not yet built), and the quality of the delivered report and Installer's Working Plans.

         
Where you will see the greatest value with the Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design:

Avoid a Costly and Time-Consuming On-Site Engagement

When an engineer is dispatched to your site it costs you twice. First, you're paying the fee for the on-site engineering services and secondly you're paying for your staff's time and involvement in the on-site work. You may need to have IT personnel, security escorts or other directly involved participants accompany the engineer during the on-site work. There may also be some unavoidable disruptions to the normal workflow at your site while the on-site engineer is making measurements. By basing all on-site RF spectrum analysis work on the 3-dimensional RF CAD model created with the Suite Spot Predictive RF CAD Design the necessary on-site work is optimized, efficient, and time-effective. There's no reason why costs should be incurred involving having an engineer walk around trying to guess at the best installation locations!

Potential for Dramatic Cost Savings

Connect802 has seen situations where a design based on circles coupled with a walk-around site survey specified 38 access points. The predictive design, because it could accurately simulate the adjacent cell overlap, specified 18 access points. The predictive design was implemented and worked correctly.

Avoid the Cost and Frustration of Problem Remediation

It's impossible to check every square foot of a building floor when walking around making RF measurements during an on-site survey. When a design is based on a 'walk around' survey it usually results in coverage gaps that have to be remediated after the network is live (and probably after uses complain that the network isn't working and they're dropping their connections!) A predictive design helps avoid the cost and frustration of implementing a wireless LAN that doesn't work and then incurring the expense of remediation and problem mitigation.

Provide Installation Specs Early In the Construction Cycle

A walk-around site survey cannot be performed before a building is built or before remodeling is complete. A predictive RF CAD model and Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design can be created as soon as the architect has the walls drawn on the AutoCAD. With a predictive CAD design you can pull cable to access point locations before the walls are closed and you can budget, order, stage, and configure equipment early in the cycle, knowing that you've got the right equipment counts on your bill-of-materials.

 
When you are ready to start a wireless LAN design project:  

The first thing you're going to do is submit your floorplans or site plans to Connect802 through our on-line File Submission System. From these Connect802 will create a price quotation for the design project. Submitting a project and receiving a quote costs you nothing an you're under no obligation to accept the quote or move forward with the project.

Step 1: Submit Your Drawings

Read the Submission Guidelines page to understand what types of files are needed and what additional information you need to collect.

Go to the on-line Connect802 Submission System to provide information about your project and upload your drawing files.

 

Step 2: Receive a Price Quote

Our RF Engineering team will evaluate your drawings and you'll receive a price quote for the design project.

Step 3: Connect802 Completes the Design

When you purchase your Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design one of our professional RF CAD designers will create the virtual 3-dimensional model of your building, develop an optimized wireless LAN design, and create a complete Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design report which includes full Installer's Working Plans.

You may want to explore the RF CAD modeling design process in more detail by reading explanations and viewing an on-line demonstration of the software in operation.

Step 4: You Receive the Report

You receive an email with a download link to your completed Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design report. You can view it electronically, re-email the download link to members of your team, or have the document printed and bound.

You can download sample reports to see examples of what various types of deliverable design reports will look like.

       
Connect802 is an authorized equipment and software reseller.
Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design Details

A Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design includes some standard and some project-specific sections. Each section follows a consistent format that has been fine-tuned over the years to present the most important information in the most understandable manner. All reports include a detailed description of the project assumptions and design specifications as well as RF signal coverage models and Installer's Working Plans with full textual descriptions, explanations, and annotations. Other sections are included as called for by a particular project's requirements.

Representative Table of Contents Items

Overview and Background

  • Important Installation Guidelines 
  • Executive Overview 
  • Overall Conclusions
  • Project Assumptions
  • Design Specifications
  • Equipment Specifications
  • Site Photographs
  • Original Drawing Files
  • Isometric Models 
  • Interpreting the RF Models

RF Spectrum Analysis

  • On-Site Methodology
  • Background RF Characteristics
  • Active Device List

RF Signal, Noise, and Interference

  • RF Spectrum Analysis
  • Interference and Noise Analysis
  • The 802.11 Environment
  • Foreign and Rogue Access Points
  • Visible Access Point Compilation

Signal Coverage, Gap Analysis, and Remediation

  • Expanded Coverage Verification
  • On-Site Survey "Heat Maps“
  • Gap Analysis
  • Remediation Modeling and Design

Calibration Measurements

  • Purpose and Methodology
  • Test Location #1
  • Test Location #2

 

Design Evaluation

  • Important Considerations
  • Areas of Concern
  • Mitigating Coverage Gaps

RF CAD Modeling and Simulation

  • Floor 1 RF Design
  • Floor 2 RF Design
  • Floor 3 RF Design
  • Floor 4 RF Design
  • Floor 5 RF Design

Installation and Configuration

  • Installer’s Working Plans
  • Installation Plan Symbols
  • Floor 1 Design Plan
  • Northeast Quadrant Detail
  • Channel Plan

Expanded Engineering Supplement

  • About This Report Section
  • Analysis of Specialized Equipment

Technical Appendix 

  • Interpreting the Design Specifications
  • Designing Coverage Cell Overlap
  • Interpreting the RF Models
  • How a Model is Created
         
At Connect802 - We've Got You Covered!

Targeted Discussion
For The Connect EZ Predictive RF CAD Design

Many companies from whom you might buy 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless network WLAN equipment or services assume that the only approach to design is the on-site wireless LAN survey. Very few companies provide RF CAD modeling and simulation to optimize the WLAN design and assure proper RF signal coverage. Below are some targeted discussions to provide you with additional perspective on how Wi-Fi site surveys are performed and on the issues related to on-site Wi-Fi survey work.
 

With wireless systems, it's very difficult to predict the propagation of radio waves and detect the presence of interfering signals without the use of test equipment. Even if you're using omni-directional antennas, radio waves don't really travel the same distance in all directions. Instead walls, doors, elevator shafts, people, and other obstacles offer varying degrees of attenuation, which cause the Radio Frequency (RF) radiation pattern to be irregular and unpredictable. As a result, it's often necessary to perform a RF site survey to fully understand the behavior of radio waves within a facility before installing wireless network access points.

The ultimate goal of a RF site survey is to supply enough information to determine the number and placement of access points that provides adequate coverage throughout the facility. In most implementations, "adequate coverage" means support of a minimum data rate. A RF site survey also detects the presence of interference coming from other sources that could degrade the performance of the wireless LAN.

The need and complexity of a RF site survey will vary depending on the facility. For example, a small three room office may not require a site survey. This scenario can probably get by with a single access point located anywhere within the office and still maintain adequate coverage. If this access point encounters RF interference from another nearby wireless LAN, you can likely choose a different channel and eliminate the problem.

To get the best performance out of your wireless network, you must both ensure that your access points (AP) are in the most optimal locations and that other radio emitters, which can cause interference, are kept to a minimum. This requires you to periodically perform site surveys of your wireless spectrum.

Wireless LANs are being installed everywhere and are becoming a critical infrastructure component. But you can't see a wireless network in action. You can't see where the radio waves are flowing. The Wireless LAN Site Survey is the precursor to a successful wireless network implementation.

A wireless site survey, or wireless survey, is the process of planning and designing a wireless network, in particular an 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless network, to provide a wireless solution that will deliver the required wireless coverage, data rates, network capacity, roaming capability and Quality of Service (QoS).

The survey usually involves a site visit, visual inspection and analysis of building floor plans. Interviews with IT management and the end users of the wireless network are important, to determine the design parameters for the wireless network.

Independent studies have shown that most of the Wi-Fi wireless networks installed today are not optimally designed or installed, and many do not provide the service that they were intended to. Because of this, stringent wireless site surveys, planning and design exercises are becoming essential, especially to support the new breed of wireless services such as Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) and real-time location services.

Wireless site survey can also mean the walk-testing, auditing, analysis or diagnosis of an existing wireless network, particularly one which is not providing the level of service required.

 
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