Designing a WLAN for Voice Infrastructure? Here's How to Do it Right the First Time
So you've decided to take your business to the next level by implementing a WLAN and insuring it's well equipped to handle the rigors of voice infrastructure. After all, today's savvy businesses are ensuring they prepare for, and utilise, the full potential of voice and video technology. So how do you go about designing the perfect WLAN to suit your needs?
Firstly, it's critical to understand that the requirements for voice infrastructure and the demands it places on a WLAN. These demands mean using a completely different set of design principles to those for WLANs that are intended merely to support data applications. Even if you're implementing a WLAN and haven't given a thought to voice infrastructure yet, it's a smart move to ensure your network is mobile-services-ready from the outset, protecting your infrastructure's investment moving towards the future.
Critical Considerations When Designing a Voice-Ready WLAN
Voice infrastructure can place strong performance demands on a network, especially effecting areas such as coverage requirements, deployment planning, network infrastructure, wireless “over-the-air” quality of service (QoS), network security architecture and the voice client feature requirements.
Following a well-defined plan when designing a voice infrastructure-friendly WLAN means paying attention to the following key steps.
1. Carefully Define Your Organisation's Needs
Take time to identify all the stakeholders in your WLAN. By engaging with them during the earliest stage of the design process, it's possible for you to ensure their requirements are incorporated into the design. You also establish what you plan to see accomplished at the end of the deployment, and the needs that must be met for a successful implementation.
2. Determine Your Coverage Areas
During this stage of the design process, it's important to take note of the information gleaned in the prior step, to ensure all the design principles and requirements are taken into account. Dependent on the requirements of your potential end users, you should be able to determine the areas in which you want to offer coverage. Additionally it's vital to ensure both your internal and external designs are reviewed.
3. Secure Approval for the Plan
Obtaining approval from all the concerned parties is an important step to ensure support of the proposed deployment, and to ensure all necessary resources are made available. Approval should also be granted before going ahead with the implementation of the WLAN's infrastructure.
4. Perform a Thorough Site Survey
An informal site survey is necessary to locate any issues that might affect your future network. These issues may include the presence of multiple WLANs (either owned by your company or overlapping from surrounding businesses) and unique building structures such as open floors and atriums.
Other issues could be high client device usage variances, such as those caused by differences in day or night shift staffing levels, or by the presence of meeting rooms that cause increases in the number of users in the meeting room location, extreme thermal changes and other non-Wi-Fi wireless devices such as microwaves or Bluetooth headsets that may cause interference.
5. Document and Deploy Your Infrastructure
Once all the changes to the design (as a result of the RF site survey) have been made, access points can be deployed. Remember to document the network as it is built and configured - the changeable nature of RF environments over time and the background noise measurements are helpful when isolating future problems.
6. Do a RF Test
RF tests are critical in determining the burgeoning network's ability to handle traffic. It should be conducted in specific conditions set to mimic actual situations, and the deployment's general reliability, as well as that of the deployed equipment and its individual characteristics.
7. Make Any Necessary RF Adjustments
It's common to require additional adjustment of the power settings after deployment, so take the time to ensure the settings are adequately set.
8. Plan for Ongoing Support
As a process in step 1, stakeholders in the decision-making process should define a group of individuals/team responsible for the on-going support and maintenance of the new deployment. This group should also be accountable for fine-tuning the network, based on usage patterns and behaviour.
By following these simple design steps and practices, it's possible to ensure your proposed WLAN is well-designed and implemented from start to finish, positioned to provide an excellent base for implementing voice infrastructure.