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Wireless Needs Assessment Package

Today’s landlords and facility managers have become fully aware of the need to provide in-building wireless coverage and capacity that supports their employees, tenants, and guests. But selecting a distributed antenna system (DAS) that meets their current needs as well as potential future requirements can be a daunting task. DAS technologies are complicated, ever-changing, and expensive. 
 

The Wireless Needs Assessment (WNA) is the vital first step in procuring a cost-effective, right-sized solution. Outlined below is a summary of critical tasks associated with conducting the WNA.
 

Begin by identifying the current and anticipated wireless applications and technology needs of your internal and external stakeholders. This activity involves polling or bringing together critical stakeholders across departments at the venue.

  • Create a checklist of existing networks and the wireless applications they support. Include a list of near term (1-2 years) and longer term (3-5 years) technologies and applications that are expected to be needed.
     

  •  Ask department managers if they are independently planning network upgrades with their budgets and resources. Document network infrastructure initiatives that may be in the works at your facility. Future-ready systems are available that converge network systems on one infrastructure. These systems help eliminate the need for costly and disruptive parallel systems. 
     

  • Identify the critical coverage areas at your venue. Be sure to include buildings that may be added in the future. Understand what applications will need to be supported in those areas. Are end users going to rely principally on Wi-Fi connectivity and/or cellular coverage?
     

  •  Identify the number of wireless users in those areas, wireless service providers, and the applications (voice communications, texting, internet-driven applications) that are in use. This step helps establish the capacity requirements of your network, the type of system needed to support capacity and coverage, and the value associated with installing a future-ready network.
     

  • Conduct a radio frequency benchmarking test at your venue. The test will empirically identify wireless dead zones and areas that may need a coverage boost. The benchmarking analysis becomes the foundation for the distributed and system design. It will ensure that you avoid the costly mistake of under-building or overbuilding the system.
     

  • The WNA should include financial considerations that include not only the capital investment and operating costs but also the ROI associated with the deployment. What are the value adders linked to a future-ready system? Think of the total cost of ownership over a 3, 5, 10-year term.
     

  • Assign an individual or small committee to coordinate plans for in-building wireless network deployments at your venue. 

This collaborative, strategic approach will shape discussions with network design engineers, equipment vendors, and installation contractors. A vendor that provides a unified solution that combines Wi-Fi and cellular technologies may be best suited to execute your future-ready wireless strategy. Cost-effective plans can be made to lay-in spare, dark fiber, and cable in-conjunction with current infrastructure buildout activity. The choice of active electronics that drive the future ready system can be evaluated based on interoperability requirements discovered during the WNA. The identification of the need to set aside space and power to support the expanding infrastructure can provide significant cost savings.
 

For a more detailed discussion of the key elements of a Wireless Needs Assessment or assistance with your next in-building wireless project, contact the IBW Advisor team.

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