Site surveys: the first step to your wireless journey

Setting up a wireless connection for your new business site? Great choice. Found yourself a plug-and-play device at the hardware store? Hold on a sec.


Chin Tat, Partner Manager Blue Wireless


When switching on a new networking infrastructure for business use, there are a few steps to consider (if you haven’t yet) to set the scene for the best possible results: a comprehensive review of your location, the needs of your people, and the availability of public infrastructure are only a few—all within the context and goals of your project: bandwidth, applications, projected data traffic.


In this blog, we’ll explore what a site survey does, why it matters, and how it helps you guarantee performance—from Day One.



Preparation and Planning VS Poor Performance


Blue Wireless has a laser-like focus on LTE/5G: data over the air. But just for a moment, imagine you’re in charge of a wired installation, at a site never wired before. You can’t just run a cable between two points and hope for the best. There are walkways to be crossed. Tunnels to be dug. Walls that need removing, and holes to be drilled.


It’d be a lot easier if you’d thought of all this before constructing the buildings, wouldn’t it?

In other words, it’s always best to plan in advance. Yes, you might get lucky with some no-name dongles from a computer store and a couple of extra routers somewhere. What if you estimated your data usage perfectly, and committed to a 2-year 1Tb/month data plan to cover it… then discovered that due to poor sightlines and inefficient boosting, your local network only achieves throughput of 1Mb/sec?


Takeout thought: very few successful businesses rely on “getting lucky”.


Your Blue Wireless site survey will address this in three main areas—your location, how many people you have, and the number and type of applications and data you use. And take in two aspects: outdoor and indoor.

 

Sidebar: why this matters The spectrum used by LTE/5G is in the 3.5GHz range. Very high? Actually, more than ultra high. Its Super High Frequency, or SHF, and future releases of the wireless standard will push SHF’s centimetres-short wavelengths even shorter, into the millimetre range. This matters. Because while these higher frequencies mean LTE and 5G can carry vast quantities of data, they also require shorter distances between transmitter and receiver to keep the network traffic humming: in normal use, range maxes out at 500m. And if you’re betting on IoT, like some of the world’s largest companies, you need even closer packing to cover obstructions like moving metal vehicles and bricks and mortar. It’s just physics.

 

Location: getting the outside perspective


The first task involves blue sky thinking—literally. It’s where you sit on the map, which defines which public LTE/5G networks you can connect to. Often there’ll be more than one provider in a region—but the best-known won’t always be the best for you. It’s not a marketing decision but a technological one: where their cell towers are, how they’re dotted across the landscape, and what bandwidth they can offer to a private business network such as your SD-WAN.

Blue Wireless team making speed checks during site survey

People: connecting the human element


Moving indoors, a second checklist covers your people. It can be as simple as confirming how large your team is, but it’s also likely to include questions about how many are in each building, what level of connectivity they need, and so on. It’s all about making sure everyone has the connectivity they need to perform at their best, without feeling pinched.


Applications and data: assessing your usage profile


Third, come your business tools: your applications and databases, what’s in the cloud, and what bandwidth each one needs. Microsoft Teams with a hundred people chatting in fullscreen video all day is a different need to a shared spreadsheet on Google Docs, streaming live media from one PC to a large audience, or sending huge CAD files to the project manager at your construction site. On the other hand, some real-time applications like transaction processing may take little bandwidth, but need that bandwidth to be always-on and always-available.


Outdoor and indoor


As part of your site survey, we’ll collect concrete facts and figures about your infrastructure and its context. It’s great to have cellular connectivity without additional hardware, but very few sites will have this given LTE/5G’s shorter point-to-point distances compared to 4G. (of course, 5G compensates for this with much higher capacity.)


So first comes signal assessment—how strong and reliable your local on-ramp to the public network is—and signal identification for sites further away. And no, a weak signal doesn’t mean you’re out of luck—it simply means your solution includes an external directional antenna to boost connection strength to your required level.


Alongside this comes the hardware side: a plan for mounting and cabling, so your antenna or other equipment stays where it belongs. It’s a vital part of your business infrastructure, after all.


Heading indoors, much of the same work happens—on a different scale. You may have a great signal outside, but how does it change once you’re inside your building? And it won’t be the same for every building, or even every room within it. That’s your indoor signal assessment. And following it comes a plan for your inside installation: how routers and other gear will cope with your building’s construction type and internal layout. Cabling is often part of this.


CONCLUSION: Leave it to the experts


A journey of a thousand miles (or a public network 50 nautical miles away) begins with a single step—and the site survey is how you set off on the right foot. Relying on a hands-on partner like Blue Wireless ensures your solution is a genuine answer to your business needs - and if it takes us knocking on walls and testing different antennas, we will do It for you.


Would you like to learn more? Reach out and we’ll come back to you asap.




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