Businesses that use WiFi in their day-to-day operations know the importance of a properly functioning enterprise wireless network. If WiFi goes down or is performing badly, productivity can come to a screeching halt. Faulty WiFi can be a huge issue to a business’s bottom line. More and more companies are relying on wireless site survey companies to come diagnose and fix their issues. Perhaps your company is at this stage and is exploring wireless site survey costs. If this is the case, you’re likely tasked with answering 2 key questions for your management team: how much does a wireless site survey cost and is a wireless site survey worth it?
Any business needing to outsource any technology management service often deals with the same issues:
- Figuring out a fair price for the technology service they need.
- Finding a provider that will deliver the service properly within their budget.
It’s difficult to gauge your options when you have limited knowledge about what you’re looking for as well as the problems at hand. You can find dozens of wireless site survey companies with a simple Google search. If you deep dive just a little bit you will notice that all of these companies offer different services at various price points. This can get pretty confusing, especially since all of these companies call their service a “wireless site survey”.
What Is A Wireless Site Survey?
The first step in figuring out how much does a wireless site survey cost is understanding what a wireless site survey is. A wireless site site survey, also called a WiFi site survey or an RF site survey is simply the process of planning a wireless network for a particular environment to meet its unique requirements for coverage, capacity, roaming, quality of service and other metrics that may need to be met.
You need to prepare a floor plan of the environment you are planning to get surveyed. The more detailed the floor plan is, the better. The floor plan should include dimensions as well as any structures that can impact the propagation of wireless signal such as elevators or staircases. The floor plan will help the wireless site survey company list all of their proposed access point locations. It also helps to create heat maps that will give you an understanding of wireless signal strength in your environment.
Your wireless site survey report should include the following items:
- Mounting locations
- Description of cable paths
- Scope of work for wireless network installation
- Required controller hardware for management
- Recommendations for configuration based on unique needs
- All required licensing and support
- Efforts required for ongoing management
- Recommended access point models (we prefer Ruckus Wireless access points for their performance )
Is A Wireless Site Survey Worth It?
This answer will vary from business to business but for the most part, yes it is. If you’re a small business that doesn’t rely much on WiFi for day-to-day operations then chances are you wouldn’t need a wireless site survey. If you’re a medium or large business with several dozen employees that use WiFi everyday, it is probably in your best interest to have your workplace surveyed before purchasing an expensive WiFi system. The minor investment in this important service may prove to be financially beneficial in the long run. It will prevent costly repairs that may be required in the event your WiFi system is setup improperly. You will also be better suited for growth and expansion as your business grows.
A wireless site survey is definitely worth it if your business is:
- In a location with a highly congested wireless environment like an office building
- Has structures that may cause wireless signal interference like a warehouse
- In a location filled with many solid structures like concrete pillars
- In any environment where WiFi is an important aspect for basic operations
Are There Different Types Of Wireless Site Surveys?
There are a few different types of wireless site surveys and it’s important that you know which type you’re looking for before you end up purchasing the wrong type of service. Some wireless surveys can be done remotely using floor plans and heat mapping software while other site surveys require on-site presence and several hours to complete. There are site surveys that will only produce a bill of materials for a WiFi deployment while more advanced site surveys will deliver a scope of work for cabling and installation as well as level of efforts for ongoing management and maintenance.
Let’s compare two of the most prevalent types of wireless site surveys – predictive and active.
Predictive Wireless Site Surveys
In a predictive site survey, a company will collect floor plans of your space. They should also ask some questions about how you plan to use your WiFi and what your general needs are. Using the information you provided, the wireless site survey company will suggest an access point model. This model will be used to create a heatmap of your location. The heatmap will feature recommended equipment placement and a visual representation of how the wireless signal will propagate within your environment.
A predictive site survey is usually delivered at no cost. It’s really more of a sales tool than anything else. Many network equipment distributors will offer a predictive site survey for free just to help close a deal. It can help transform a simple transaction into a more customized experience for the client. Since a predictive site survey is typically free, there are some sacrifices that are made in terms of quality and accuracy. Is most cases when deploying more than 3 wireless APs, predictive site survey is not sufficient . Items such as AP placement, wireless signal coverage, and network performance are generally estimated and may require slight or even drastic changes in order to best align with your environment and needs.
Active Wireless Site Surveys
If accuracy is the goal then an active site survey is the way to go. An active wireless site survey will require an on-site visit. It can typically take from a few hours to a few days to complete, depending on the size of the location. An active site survey can be done in a new environment with no wireless equipment in place. A survey can also be done in a location where a WiFi system already exists but needs to be fixed or configured properly. The final report will offer an extremely accurate plan for equipment placement, wireless signal coverage, network performance, cabling and installation.
Just like in a predictive site survey, a floor plan will need to be shared and the general WiFi needs will need to be discussed. This is where the similarities ends. A wireless engineer uploads the floor plans into their site survey software and positions a single access point in the space. The engineer then begins to roam around the space and takes measurements of the access point’s signal strength. The site survey software will also measure outside WiFi interference from nearby wireless networks in order to allow the wireless engineer to provide recommendations for channel selection and other configurations.
The man-hours that go into an active site survey are not limited to the time spent on-site. Engineers spending several hours afterwords drawing up walls other structures on to the provided floor plans to provide an even more accurate representation of the wireless signal propagation in the space. Staircases, elevator shafts, windows and walls will all have a negative impact on the wireless signal. Construction materials of the walls will also have their own affect. For example, drywall will not be as bad for wireless radio signals as concrete is.
How Much Does A Wireless Site Survey Cost?
The value you get out of a WiFi site survey is pretty clear but when it comes to presenting the need to your company’s CFO, the technical requirements need to translate in to some sort of dollar figure. A predictive site survey should always be delivered at no cost. As it is more of a sales tool rather than a customized report, the wireless site survey company should be delivering it an no charge. If you are being asked to pay for such a report, this should be a major red flag about the company you’re working with and you should begin exploring other options.
An active site survey is a bit harder to determine a cost. There are so many different variables that could impact pricing. A good range of cost for a wireless site survey is between $2,000 and $10,000 per survey. However, here are some factors that will affect your wireless site survey cost:
- Square footage of survey area
- Support requirement for specific WiFi applications
- Ceiling height and requirements for lifts
- Floor plan creation requirements
- Physical location of survey environment
- WiFi hardware requirements
- The time it takes to compete site survey
- Report turnaround requirements
- Specific client requirements like needing the survey conducted during off-business hours or expedited completion
Choose The Right Wireless Site Survey Company
One of the best ways to get a fair price for your wireless site survey is to get quotes from multiple wireless site survey companies. Compare sample reports and speak to client references. Made By WiFi can provide both and has successfully completed wireless site surveys for various businesses. We have experience surveying different environments including office buildings, refrigerated warehouses, outdoor boardwalks, hospitals and courthouses with stringent security requirements. Ready to fix your broken wireless network? Contact the wireless specialists at Made By WiFi today for your no-risk, no-obligation wireless site survey consultation.