March 28, 2022
3 Steps to a Successful Large-Scale Wi-Fi Deployment
As organizations adopt next-generation wireless equipment in big venues, these best practices can help them build high-density networks.
Operators of sports and entertainment venues, shopping malls, airports, and other large spaces where people congregate face a common challenge in today’s smartphone-toting society: People demand Wi-Fi service that is fast and reliable.
Organizations with large-scale Wi-Fi deployments must provide robust internet connectivity to thousands of people — in some cases, tens of thousands — simultaneously.
Whether organizations are installing wireless for the first time in new venues or planning Wi-Fi upgrades in existing facilities, they should standardize on the latest Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6e access points (APs) to meet ever-increasing bandwidth demands and to future-proof their networks. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6e are the latest standards and enable faster speeds, higher capacity and better range, which is perfect for densely packed environments like stadiums or arenas.
Here are three steps organizations can take to ensure they deploy strong Wi-Fi networks that meet users’ high bandwidth needs for years to come.
1. Perform a Site Design Survey
Few organizations have the expertise to perform a comprehensive site survey themselves, so they should hire an external consultant to conduct this exercise. During a site survey, network engineers design the wireless network by determining the number and type of wireless APs needed and the optimal placement of each AP.
They assess real-world factors, such as user density and the layout and physical characteristics of venues or facilities. They also consider an organization’s business drivers, as well as the number of devices and types of applications that must be supported.
A site survey also includes analyzing existing bandwidth and determining whether an organization needs to upgrade its LAN with more network switches to support an increased number of APs.
CDW has a team of trained engineers who can perform site surveys and design a Wi-Fi network for your organization.
2. Test and Fine-Tune the Network After Installation
Designs based on site surveys are informed estimates. They are mostly accurate, but it’s important to check to ensure that APs are installed in the right locations and are properly configured. Further, organizations should test to determine whether Wi-Fi systems are performing as designed.
When a new wireless network goes live at a stadium, for example, the sports team’s IT staff should roam the stadium, check for dead spots and slow connections, and test APs for signal strength and performance. During this process, they can adjust settings, such as powering up or powering down APs to balance the load of users in an area. They can also move, add or remove APs to optimize performance.
Organizations can turn to third-party experts to handle this task. For example, CDW has the expertise to test, fine-tune and provide post-installation support to ensure that newly deployed Wi-Fi networks perform as expected.
3. Deploy a Network Management and Monitoring Tool
A network management tool such as Cisco Systems’ DNA Center enables organizations to centrally configure, manage, monitor and troubleshoot their Wi-Fi networks.
Cisco DNA Center, for example, provides a dashboard that monitors network health and performance and notifies IT staff if it discovers a problem. IT teams can use the tool to quickly troubleshoot, pinpoint the root cause of an issue and resolve it.
The tool also provides network usage statistics, automates network management tasks (such as pushing configurations to switches) and allows IT teams to manage security policies.
Ultimately, greater management control can help an organization’s IT team deliver the Wi-Fi experience that users demand, even at a venue providing access to tens of thousands of people.
Dan Morris, an Enterprise Project Manager at CDW who specializes in high density wireless designs and deployments for large public venues. He has over 7 years of experience working on multiple venues within the sports and entertainment sector.
Jay Myers, an Enterprise Wireless Solutions Architect for CDW responsible for pre-sales and technical designs for wireless technologies for CDW customers. He has over 7 years of experience working on multiple venues within the sports and entertainment sector and over 40 years in RF/Wireless solutions.