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What You Need to Know Before Upgrading Your Outdoor Wireless Network.

If you are anything like me, you get incredibly frustrated when you go to sit outside on your deck or patio, and your wi-fi signal gets weak. This is an issue experienced by both our residential and commercial customers. Luckily, we can help make this a thing of the past, but there are a few things you should know first.

Think about all of the outdoor places you visit, or outdoor events you attend. Did you just automatically assume that there would be wi-fi available? For example, if you're at a cafe, or hanging out by a friend's pool, I'm sure one of the first things you did was check to see if you could connect to a wireless network, and like most people if you couldn't get a great signal or god forbid none at all, you instantly become annoyed.

The truth of the matter is that there is a growing gap between user expectations and the ability for homes and businesses to support those demands. This holds especially true when discussing outdoor wireless networks.

Most colleges and healthcare facilities nowadays rely on outdoor wireless networks for their everyday operations. The same is true for a lot of businesses, and we are slowly starting to see it holding true in the residential capacity as well. We know. The idea of creating an outdoor wireless environment that doesn't include a myriad of cables and wires seems daunting, but have no fear. It can be done.

There are several options available to help you successfully design and deploy an outdoor network, however, there are some essential best practices that you need to be aware of prior to upgrading your outdoor connectivity.

Know What Devices You're Using

There is a WIDE variety of devices being used today. That means knowing what ones are being used on your network is not necessarily the simplest of tasks, especially if you have a lot of people connecting to your network.

Our advice? When in doubt, assume any and every type of device available will be used. This assumption should include laptops, tablets, phones, gaming consoles, video equipment, e-readers, Fitbits, Apple Watches, sound equipment, control systems....and you definitely shouldn't limit that assumption to just the devices mentioned.

Assume EVERY kind of device will be sucking up your network signal. EVERY kind.

Taking all of these devices into consideration enables you to be able to plan appropriately for proper reception and transmission. Additionally, knowing what devices are being used allows you consider necessary encryption and security measures for your wireless network as well.

75% of people reported that they'd be more grumpy during a week without wi-fi than they would during a week without coffee.

Go Big, or Go Home.

We know. The concensus for most projects is to have more than enough vs. too little. Over-planning your network to account for numerous devices AND people accessing your network will absolutely help with under-performance.

If you limit your scope too much, it can result in very limited accessibility. Proper planning is what's going to prevent you from having to reassess and expand your network sooner than necessary.

A proper assessment of your current environment before you deploy your network is CRITICAL. Performing a quality wireless site survery will ensure that you deploy the correct solution for your specific needs. If you would like, our experts are more than happy to come to your site and perform this survey at no cost!

Google Earth is an INCREDIBLE tool for this.

Determining your correct coverage area can seem like a serious challenge, but Google Earth helps make that process so much easier! With its help, you can lay out your design to figure out the total area in which coverage is needed.

You can get accurate measurements for your outdoor wireless network design to be sure that the coverage area is suffiecient for your needs.

RF Tools

RF planning tools aid in ensuring your outdoor wireless network is CAPABLE of handling the devices and applications that will be on your network.

Of course coverage is important, but it is possible to have a large coverage area with little service capacity. Utilizing RF planning tools allows you to view the transmitter locations and parameters of your wireless systems for optimal results.

Challenges May Arise, but Fear Not.

Outdoor networks are no doubt impressive, but there are potential challenges you may face from structures, mother nature, or the environment. We've all been in a building that has spotty coverage because of the thickness of the concrete walls, and an outdoor network is no different.

Signals can struggle to travel through concrete, while heavy winds, rain, and trees can also affect signal strength.

Most of these issues can be predicted and you can plan around them. Not that a challenge won’t arise, but addressing any potential problems from the beginning can make a big difference when it comes to your wireless performance.

Choosing the right wi-fi service provider that can ensure you have not only the coverage, but the network reliability and strength you need is tied directly to your overall success.

As always, if you have any questions about your current outdoor wireless network design, or want to see what it would take to get a network installed, we would love to talk to you. Reach out and let's see what we can make happen for you!

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