Throw up a few access points, and done. Right?
Wrong! This might work in a (very) small office environment but more often than not, a thorough WiFi heat map is a critical step in ensuring you have the appropriate WiFi coverage in your space.
A heat map starts as a floorplan of your space. Actually, let me back up. A heat map starts as a conversation to understand the business requirements of your WiFi system. How many users? What types of applications? What about video streaming? Do users ever work outside? What kinds of devices? Do users move around a lot during the day or are they stationary? What are your business hours? All of these seemingly unrelated questions go a long way in informing the type of system that your specific business or facility needs.
With the right coverage and capacity planning from the start, you avoid headaches down the road. Based on the answers to these questions (and more), the appropriate WiFi system and access points can be selected for your particular application.
Now comes the artistic part. Well, kind of. Certain access points provide certain coverage patterns, in addition to certain capacities for devices and bandwidth. With these parameters in mind, the access points are plotted on your floorplan and arranged in a way that achieves exactly what you’re looking for. Maybe fewer access points with higher capacities or broader broadcast patterns is worth the additional expense. Or maybe a lesser-equipped access point (at a lower price) but at a higher quantity is better suited.
With so many variables at play, a trained eye is best when generating heat maps. In addition to these technical and business requirements, physical design also plays a major role. Maybe that ceiling is all glass. Maybe there’s no access for a cable in that ceiling. How do we even mount something up there? All of the physical requirements of your space also inform where access points are placed. If certain areas need to avoided while mounting, additional access points can be installed around the area to ensure proper coverage.
With proper planning and the right partner to drive this process, you can feel confident that your WiFi system delivers exactly what your organizations needs.