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How to Perform an AP on a Stick Site Survey

February 03, 2021

The lifecycle of a wireless network is the process of designing, validating, optimizing, and troubleshooting that network. Whether upgrading an existing wireless network or designing a greenfield network, you have to account for capacity requirements or potential interferences in the environment. Before you deploy your new or upgraded network infrastructure, you need to ensure you have real-world data to provide insight and insurance for your wireless project.

What is an AP on a Stick survey?

An AP on a Stick (APoS) survey is a method of temporarily staging APs at deployment height utilizing a tripod or other mounting options in order to validate your predictive design before a full site deployment. APoS surveys identify the RF signal propagation characteristics of the environment while providing additional confidence your proposed design will work as planned, reducing the need for costly AP location changes, and validating you have the correct number of APs in your design.

Is an AP on a Stick survey necessary?

With the advancements in predictive Wi-Fi design, network experts are often asked whether or not an APoS is still necessary. One rule of thumb for design validation is to perform a survey if the expected cost of installation exceeds the cost of the actual AP. Between dealing with potential asbestos testing, hard deck ceilings, temporary network outages for impacted areas, union labor, cost of running cable, cost of additional switches, etc., an APoS survey can prevent additional installation costs and provide insurance for business-critical Wi-Fi designs.

 Find out more about our Wi-Fi Survey Case for AP on a Stick

3 Key Goals of Performing an AP on a Stick Survey

1. Validate Your Environment

While most greenfield projects have up-to-date CAD files, not all network changes will be that lucky. As companies change buildings and upgrade or expand office sites, site drawings don’t always contain a history of modifications made to the facility throughout the years or communicated to the wireless team. An undocumented atrium, old x-ray room or storage closet with dense files and metal shelving can negatively impact Wi-Fi if not accounted for. An AP on a Stick survey ensures you the opportunity to get eyes on the project, collect data and validate the environment is what you predicted. You should also take the time to fire up your spectrum analyzer and look at neighboring networks to look for interference.

2. Validate AP and Antenna (if applicable) Performance

Network design is an art form. There is no one single way to build a great network, but all good networks have one thing in common—validating the AP and antenna performance. When you are deploying a network, you count on the antenna patterns and signal coverage performing as predicted. Performing an AP on a stick survey validates your design by answering the following questions:

  1. Does the RF propagate as anticipated?
  2. Does the antenna pattern match what you have in your design?
  3. Do you have the signal coverage you anticipated?

If the answer is no, make sure you have recorded the data so you can go back to your design to make the necessary adjustments.

3. Mitigate Risk

One of the most critical components of network planning—and the costliest if done incorrectly—is determining the number of APs you need and where to put them. Incorrect placement or an incorrect number (too many APs or too few), can create major problems for your network, such as coverage gaps, channel interference or roaming issues. This can result in costly future network outages, downtime and a loss of productivity. Performing an AP on a Stick survey gives you the assurance that your design will perform as predicted. The empirical data collected during testing allows you to either sign off on the project as designed or make alterations before racking up unnecessary overages.

Source: Ekahau Blog

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