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Proxim: Wireless Network Design - Best Practices

Wireless Network Design - Best Practices

Tips from the Experts: Guidelines for a successful network deployment

Regardless of the application, today wireless broadband is the order of the day, providing fiber like connectivity and reliability in a matter of hours. However, like any project, a successful wireless network deployment relies on proper planning and design.

The first step in any network design is to clearly identify and understand all requirements and identify any constraints which might create limitations for the wireless project.

Depending upon the network requirements and design, the infrastructure deployed will require careful consideration of both the radio and switching technology used in the wireless network. Designs using licensed and/or unlicensed frequencies, Point to Point (PtP) and/or Point to Multi-Point (PtMP) links all use different calculations and survey methods based on factors such as line of sight (LoS), distance, and capacity. These methods evaluate environmental factors, path requirements, and data requirements then match those to technical capabilities. Data traffic, application, and security requirements will also influence the technology considered and evaluated for the network.

Once the infrastructure technology has been matched to the requirements, the next step is to design each link within the network. This step takes data from the infrastructure planning and applies it to the planning of each individual link using technology specific path calculations. Each link uses a unique calculation based on the type of technology, use of licensed or unlicensed bands, and environmental factors to calculate the capability of the link between two mounting points. The calculations must show the link is capable of meeting both the reliability and capacity requirements to be considered in the deployment. When a link calculation determines a link cannot meet the requirements, either optional mounting locations or a different technology need to be identified. This critical step in the design of the network provides the first opportunity of a successful deployment. If this step cannot be successfully completed, a new constraint has been identified and Step Two "infrastructure planning" should be repeated.

The link budget is a calculated value indicating how resilient a link will be when dynamic RF factors have a negative impact on the performance of the link. It provides a gauge between the expected throughput and the required throughput.

Needless to say, for a successful deployment one of the most crucial steps is a detailed site survey. Site surveys include numerous activities, from inspection of the deployment area, to spectrum analysis gathering information about the available frequencies at the deployment site and finally the documentation and analysis of findings.

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