Wi-Fi is a Passion


WLAN deployment pt 1.

As a wireless designer, you can still be a part of the deployment process. For that case, you need to be familiar with how to deploy a wireless network.

Device staging and installing
This is the process to prepare devices before they are placed in the production environment. This is not only the case for access points, but also for laptops and other client type devices. You can do pre-staging for remote deployment or for local deployment. By remote deployment you configure the access point on location and ship it to the remote location for plug-and-play. This will be helpful when there are not as many technical engineers at the remote location. When there are technical engineers available you can pre-stage them with default username/passwords, default IP configurations, default security settings and operational services. The configurations are based on the design requirements.

The security settings are per SSID, for example one SSID with 802.1X for the enterprise environment and one SSID with PSK for the VoIP handsets that doesn’t support 802.1X.

With autonomous access points, the access points need to be staged individually, while with controller based access points, most of the staging is done in the controller or in the cloud management tool. Every vendor has useful installation guides that should be checked during staging process. In those installation guides, there are also mounting instructions, device specifications, safety instructions and unpacking guidelines.

When installing the device, use the exact location that is used in the documentation. Internal access points have also an RF pattern. Too close to walls can be a problem, or around metal areas. There should be a document with the exact location and how to mount them. Mounting on the ceiling or on the wall are two different types of mounting and can be negative affecting the RF propagation. Use the power setting that is documented or the RRM if it is specified and the right channel.

Channel plans
Channel plans are important in a wireless design, because wrong selecting of channels can occur in CCI or ACI. When you configure the access points you can assign the channels manually, or automatically. It is possible that you assign automatic channels in the 5 GHz band, and for 2.4 GHz manually. However, when you use autonomous configuration there is not always an automatic system for channel assignment. Assigning access points to a channel can be useful for protocol analysis when you do this with an access point. In most cases it is better to have control over the channel usage and assign them manually, but this is time consuming.

Automatic channel assignment is called Radio Resource Management. Other vendors use other terms like Adaptive Resource Management or Airmatch (by Aruba). This assignment is based on the feedback of the WLAN controller. It is smart to fine-tune RRM configurations before deploying it. RRM can help with coverage hole detection and mitigation by adjusting the power level or when an access point is offline adjusting the power level from nearby access points. Another benefit is that when the environment changes a lot, that affects the RF propagation. RRM can help with adjusting the power levels and channels. The information that RRM gathered is different per vendor, but in most cases, it includes channel utilization, noise, interference, coverages (based on RSSI) and access point detections in the area. RRM can adjust the power levels, channels, and monitor the radio resources. Access points where RRM is implemented, the access points monitor other channels for less than 100ms.