To Mesh or Not to Mesh?
If you are suffering from Wi-Fi coverage issues, then you probably heard someone suggesting “ Go and get yourself a Mesh network “
The next thing you will do, is to look for a mesh solution in amazon or your local ISP, and you will be overwhalmed with the number of solutions , promising, not only great coverage but also the lastest Wi-Fi 6 standards
There are dozens of great mesh solutions in the market https://amzn.to/3ISQtER , that will help you overcome bad connectivity issues and signal loss ( spreading your Wi-Fi signal between several nodes )
This article will not help to choose the right Mesh Network ( Which is a great, fast and reliable solution in most cases ).
here we will do somethong else , even if you have a single Wi-Fi Base that takes care of your house, you can learn where to place it, so that it will serve you and your family in an optimal way.
If you ever wondered where to place your wi-fi router, to have good coverage but also increase your speed. then this article is for you
Site survey for dummies
The term Site Survey refers to the art of placing a Wi-Fi base station or a node in different locations around your office, home so that, no dead spot will be witnessed
How do you perform a manual site survey?
No special hardware needed, only your smartphone and wi-fi router.
A good site survey will make sure, that signals that spread in the air, will have the best chance to hit your home appliances, with minimum loss.
The first step is to determine a threshold that will be enough for all your needs is -65dBm
-65d dBm is a quite balanced signal quality measurement, which will be suitable for most apps, either social media and video streaming ( assuming that you have the bandwidth for it ) signal quality, determines only the quality of the signal, yet if you are limited with bandwidth as in the case where your other members in the family consume lots of data, then you have another problem.
The manual process is as follows
Place your Wi-Fi hardware at the edge of your office or home space.
Then walk away with your smartphomne and a wifi analyzer app ( just pick one of the wifi analyzer apps available on your play or apple store , I usually do that using Netspot on my Mac, but you can also use your smartphone and a wifi analyzer app )
Take into concern that there are 2 types of ways to measure a signal:
The passive way and the active way
In the passive scan, you are just listening to the signal, it’s intensity.
That is quite OK for a survey, but professionals usually prefer to make an active site survey where they interactively moving data as they listen to the signal
Keep moving and get to the place where your wi-fi analyzer app says -65dBm
The signal measure also known as RSSI (received signal strength indicator ) is a measure that you see in your smartphone and on your laptop whenever you connect to a wifi network, It’s the received power, the signal amplitude as our wireless card circuitry senses it.
Your wireless router broadcast signals at a power level, usually 20dBm, which is 100mw, if you walk one meter from it, the signal will decrease following physical phenomena such as free space path loss and the inverse square law ( but that is for another article )
Once you found the -65dBm signal measure, you have now found your wireless router placement, signals are bi-directional, so now you know that you can place your wireless router, at the -65 dBm location and just for a final check, go back to the beginning of the office with your phone and check to see that you are on -65dBm
The next thing to do, is actually walking around with your Wi-Fi app, and click around every few meters, and guess what, you’re actually sampling the signal, to see the perimeter where -65dBm is still valid.
Where it reaches -70dBm, you know that this is the end of your Wi-Fi signal
Then we do that again, and now from the opposite side of the office
If you plan to have a second access point, you do the same, with your second access point, but don’t forget to have an overlap between the 2 areas.
How much overlap?
It is good to have a 10 dB minimum overlap
That means that when you walk in the area of access point 1 when you reach a -55dBm, you will start to hear access point 2 at -65dBm
Now remember, this is just a coverage model, you should also take into concern Density
If you get to the other side of the room and there are 60 people there, you may need to place several Wi-Fi nodes to handle the number of people, remember, More people, More air time, More air time, Less throughput for each