Wireless Cheapest or Best Value
Wireless: Cheapest or Best Value?
In the wireless industry, price is a large factor of the vendor you choose. Rightly so, of course – if you are spending on a product, you want the best value!
However, in the wireless space, the cheapest job may leave you with insufficient APs and poor coverage - and quite possibly these were the issues you were trying to solve in the first place!
If you want devices to work properly, you have to design properly for that - and that means ensuring you've got enough APs to do the job. I've got a saying that you 'can't bend physics' and what I mean is that if you have weaker transmitting devices then you need enough APs close enough to that device to hear it properly.
Question 1: AP Density
So, the first point in your discussion with a potential provider of your wireless LAN is to understand what you want - and match the number and density of APs to meet that.
For example - do you want voice? If so, 2.4GHz or 5GHz? Do you want RTLS? There's a range of services you could support - but the network needs to be designed to meet that. If your cheapest supplier isn't asking you these sort of questions, what are they going to design to?
Question 2: Services
A lot of surveys are undertaken as quickly as possible, without checks or confirmation that they meet the specification you need. They also frequently don't include any floor maps to show you where the APs are - its all extra effort, but its cheaper in the end to design properly from the start.
That means we have to spend some time on it, and it isn’t just the specific technical aspects, but the presentation of any documentation and the follow up to work through any questions. Do you want a partner in your installation, or just a transaction to do the cheapest job?
Price vs Quality
The difference between the cheapest and the best value can be seen in the quality of the documentation and the overall delivery. With the best, there are quality checks along the way, through surveys and documentation. If you have ever had the misfortune to be presented with a network diagram that looks like a birds nest, you will know what I mean.
And messy documentation means messy onsite work. Bad patching. Bad cable management. All this means when it comes time
to upgrade your network, it will not be capable of handling the upgrade, making you spend even more than you already have to.
So, yes, quality costs - we all understand that. With networks, you need to be willing to pay more to get a better result.
This is the first point – compare the quality of documentation from your prospective suppliers and that will give you a pretty good indication of what's to come.
Let’s say you get a couple of quotes for comparison quote and one has fewer APs than the other. Maybe it is sold as a ‘data only’ service, in which case all well and good – you don’t care about smaller weaker transmitting devices roaming.
When the time comes though, it is going to cost more to upgrade that network? You will have to move Access Points around to accommodate the additional Access Points that would be introduced - more costly than designing everything in the right spot in the first place.
Example of good cable management
Wireless: Advanced Services
Assuming that you do want to support RTLS, voice and other advanced services, then you do need more APs.
With fewer APs, they will run at a higher power, not give you enough cell overlap and devices won’t roam.
And here's the kicker - your cheaper survey will most likely look quite good on a predictive survey, but you are left scratching your head as to why you keep getting drop outs on your phones when its actually commissioned.
Why does this happen? If you would like a more in depth view on this, you can check out our previous blog articles on Access Point Power caps, https://www.iptel.com.au/access-point-power-caps.html , but to summarise:
- If you have an access point running as hot as it can, your phone is going to hear it and connect to it.
- To not drop out, you will need to have a consistent connection of your phone talking to the access point and the access point talking to your phone.
- Your phone may be able to hear the access point, but it will not have the power to transmit a signal strong enough to reach back to the access point, therefore dropping out.
Summary: Price vs Best Value
When we quote on the number of Access Points, we take into account the power that they would run at to support phones and lower powered devices. This may make it more expensive from the outset, but it comes with more benefits, like allowing the network to support more client and have a higher bandwidth between all of your clients. The value is better if the network does what you actually need!
In conclusion, wireless networks are not something that you want to go cheapest with. If you are building a network, you need the best value, not the cheapestto deliver the network you actually need.