Deploying Outdoor Wi-Fi: 5 Major Challenges to Overcome

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | April 20, 2017 | Read Time: 4 mins

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So, you need to deploy an outdoor wireless network at your business. You're most likely thinking what many others have thought, "How much different can it be from the wireless I have inside my building or buildings?" Unfortunately, very different.

Outdoor wireless networks, while they share many of the same basic principals as their indoor counterparts, also contain some very unique intricacies that make them inherently different and often times more challenging to deploy.

With more and more end-users demanding anywhere, always-on secure access, the importance of outdoor wireless has steadily increased.For businesses that require outdoor wifi access, deploying the right system will increase productivity and user satisfaction.

However, when it comes to actually seeing those results there are 5 major challenges that are standing in your way.

1. Connecting to the wired network

A common mistake a lot of people make when thinking about wireless, is not realizing that even though it's wireless it still has to make a connection to your wired network at some point to function.

When it comes to deploying an outdoor wireless network, making those wired connections can cause some serious challenges.

You'll need to make sure you have access to nearby buildings with wired access to avoid slowing down your performance.This is because your outdoor system will be forced to use “hops". A hop is going from one outdoor mesh access point to another as it travels back to the wired network.

Each hop halves the throughput or speed, for example, if you started with 30 megabits at the wired access point and made a hop to a mesh access point your speed would now be 15 megabits.

Watch the video here to learn more about outdoor mesh limitations and when it should be used.

2. Avoiding Interference

Outdoor wireless planning software has definitely come along way over the years. We now have access to tools that allow us to determine not only where we should place our access points but even how high we should place them to broadcast the best signal.

While this predictive software is amazing, it still has it's limitations.

There are just some things even the best design software can't predict or see, and that's why it's critical when your business is looking to deploy outdoor Wi-Fi you understand that it's a hands-on process, involving both software and network engineers coming on-site.

This will help prevent performance issues after you've deployed your network--saving you time, money and a lot of frustration.

3. Over-Compensating

Outdoor wireless systems are usually installed on top of or close to the top of the buildings on your companies’ campus. In older buildings, the construction materials that were used can really hurt the performance of your outdoor network.

A typical reaction by some consultants or less experienced service providers is to over-engineer your system. I know, it seems like it would make sense that the more APs you have the more power, but in reality all it does is decrease your performance and increase how much you spend.

Your system doesn’t need to over compensate, it just needs to be able to adjust and scale to the necessary needs of outdoor system. We always plan for some adjustment room whether it's an indoor or outdoor network, but nothing outside of the scope of what's required.

4. Adapting to our changing environment

Due to the network being outside, it's not the only thing that is dynamic.

Season to season things can change. Mother natures weather patterns can affect wireless, just as the difference in foliage between summer and winter can have an impact on how your outdoor network behaves.

Think about it--if you planned and implemented your network in the autumn after the leaves had fallen; chances are your wifi performance in the spring when those same trees are green and heavy with leaves won't be the same.

Hills, trees, the time of season, weather patterns, they all can impact your outdoor wifi performance. To get it right and keep it that way takes a proper design and constant monitoring of your network after it's been deployed.

5. Choosing the right wireless service provider

Engineering an outdoor Wi-Fi network is not an easy task. In many ways it's even more difficult to do than indoor wireless networks. This is why partnering with the right wireless service provider or engineering team is so critical when it comes to outdoor.

Like indoor Wi-Fi, outdoor also takes years of experience and a number of certifications in order to get it right.Ultimately, outdoor is a different animal compared to indoor wifi and you need to understand that going into any outdoor wireless project.

At SecurEdge, we provide the platform to simplify networking and deliver a reliable, robust, and secure wireless system-–it’s all we do. If you would like to learn more about either network management systems or network access control or have questions about an upcoming project, contact us here.

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