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Advancements in technology are emerging so quickly today that things such as internet and WIFI access are an expectation when you walk into a building. You never really think about how the WIFI got there — how it was installed, how it operates, the daily processes that take place just to deliver the wireless service to your laptop, tablet, or Smartphone. Often, once we have successfully connected to a building’s wireless services, we move on to our next thought and continue with our day. But, have you ever wondered how the WIFI got there? What processes were necessary to install the equipment, how the equipment operates and functions, and why, sometimes, it doesn’t work at all? Before a business can even consider what technology works best for their business, they must focus on the most integral part of the installation process: design.

Blog_4_22.jpgYou can’t compromise good design. For the past two weeks, I have been fortunate enough to attend a few tours to take a look at some of the most innovative, reliable, and effective systems that are responsible for providing Wi-Fi, internet access, security, and monitoring. Today, when creating an architectural design for a building, it is almost assumed that an IT architect will accompany design plans to ensure effective and compatible IT integration. The challenge, however, lies in older buildings: buildings such as museums, hospitals, and even older buildings on university campuses. The question then becomes, “How can I successfully integrate an IT design that accommodates existing architecture while ensuring reliability during the next phases of IT advancement?”

Blog_4_3.jpgI joined Fancom at Carleton University to take a look at the Campus Network Upgrade Project that took place in 2004. The project focused on integrating a compatible and effective IT design that accommodated pre-existing university buildings and structures while maintaining a focus on time efficiency. By placing barcodes on every asset cable, conduit, and places such as door frames, card access control panels, and even fire sprinklers, technicians can approach any barcode with a handheld Motorola scanner to scan any barcode. After scanning the barcode, the Motorola scanner retrieves the appropriate record and provides data about the asset, connection or history of the component. Technicians can then make changes to the records and execute work orders assigned to them. The idea is to record all change as it occurs to ensure records remain accurate over time, ensuring the consistent updating of records and data to maintain accuracy. The installation of this system promotes incredible time efficiency, as technicians no longer need to physically trace cables, but simply scan a barcode and update their infrastructure records as required. For more information about the Carleton Campus Network Upgrade Project, or any similar projects, visit http://cormant.com/. To review the Case study for the Carleton Campus Network Upgrade Project, visit http://cormant.com/download/secure-downloads/smts/collateral/case-study/Carleton-University-Case-Study-150430.pdf

Blog_4_5.jpgSo, back to Wi-Fi for a minute. Imagine you’re sitting at Starbucks enjoying your favourite “venti, lactose free soya mocha-frappa chino, no whip” for $12 CDN. You spark up your laptop with the intention of heading to Facebook to catch up on your friend’s latest adventures in organic gardening and making preserves, but as the wireless Gods would have it, no luck. You can’t connect, or even more aggravating that little dotted circle is going around and around endlessly to tell you, “Hang on dear, I’m trying really hard to connect, I’m almost there! You’ll be connected in 5-7 minutes!” Ugh!!

Like so many things in life, if it’s to work properly, Wi-Fi has to be designed properly. Throwing a wireless access point (WAP) up in the ceiling, connecting it to power and running an Ethernet cable back to the closest data outlet does not constitute good design. Your Grandmother can do this and the chances are pretty good that she’s not an RCDD (Registered Communications Distribution Designer). She’s likely great at making pot roast, knits a mean pair of mittens and loves her grandchildren unconditionally, but she’s also smart enough to know what she’s not qualified to do. WAPs can be somewhat directional, some can be multi-directional. If the Ethernet cable happens to be running near a motor in the ceiling that runs the air-conditioning, the interference from that motor may adversely affect the WAP function. This might account for why Wi-Fi “reception” is good some days and poor on others.

Wi-Fi operates in two very distinct frequency ranges: 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. Even within those two operating bands there are several “channels” on either side of the specific 2.4 and 5.0 GHz numbers. Effective Wi-Fi design will include the “optimization” of channels the WAP is going to offer so as not to interfere with each other. More channels are good, but if all customers are riding on one channel….unhappy Starbucks customers! It’s becomes much like crossing the 401 highway at 2:00pm on a week day. Twelve lanes is all well and good, but if everyone is crowded into the collector lanes we have gridlock fun, which is not very good. The same thing applies to Wi-Fi: your designer needs to be the traffic cop to allow for the most efficient flow of traffic.

A Starbucks may only have one WAP to serve its clients. A larger institution such as a school may have dozens. In this case, they need to be spread out and the degree to which they should be spread out is determined by “heat mapping.” Stay tuned to this blog channel where we’ll discuss heat mapping in a future blog. In the meantime, if you’re thinking about Wi-Fi installation for your business, don’t call your Grandmother. Fancom’s RCDD’s can help.

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For all your wi-fi and IT design requirements please feel free to contact Fancom Connects at any time.

905-990-4845 ext. 206 or peter.leupen@fancomni.com