Case Study 2: Neetek designs a blazing fast Very High Density (“VHD”) Wireless Network for a leading fitness app software company

INDUSTRY: Technology
CLIENT DESCRIPTION: A leading fitness app software company
NEETEK SOLUTIONS DEPLOYED: Wireless Network Design

Overview

Bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Waiting in line at the DMV.
Picking the slowest line at the grocery store.
Slow Wi-Fi at work.

Among the daily stressors that test our patience, slow Wi-Fi rises to the top. Almost every modern business process today requires not only an internet connection, but a fast and reliable one.

From supporting real-time applications like video streaming and voice calling, to sending emails with large attachments, to uploading large files to the cloud – as well as supporting more and more wireless devices from smartphones to tablets to IoT devices, the need to provide a workforce with the most up-to-date wireless network infrastructure is not a nice to have, but a must have.

Just a slight delay in WiFi connectivity is enough for an important file download to fail, a Slack conversation to freeze, or even a disruption to a voice or video conference call, to the point of being unable to conduct business.  These failures can be extremely frustrating for employees especially when they are intermittent. The result?  A productivity and satisfaction nose dive.

This issue is even more pronounced for the millennial workforce who grew up with the Internet and are always-on. Millennials are now the largest labor force and in 2020, they will comprise half of the labor force and by 2025, 75% of the labor force. As a group that grew up with technology, apps, and platforms, having a slow or intermittent Wi-Fi connection at work is an unacceptable proposition with a huge impact on productivity and how an organization is perceived.

This was the situation for a technology company that relies on blazing fast Wi-Fi not only for everyday tasks, but also due to the fact they are constantly testing new apps as part of their business.

And like our other clients, what triggered the call to Neetek was fairly straightforward:

“Our Wi-Fi sucks!”

Wireless First environments

Before the days of Wireless First, the IT director would buy a router, get some wireless access points and manage them separately, with security and encryption somewhat of an afterthought. An Ethernet connection was the default connection point, where almost all employees had a docking station and even a telephone handset that would connect to an Ethernet port at their desk.

Now, just about every industry and vertical has either adopted or is in the process of adopting a Wireless First approach and everything that comes with it including encryption, authentication, and security. Aside from security, there are multiple issues that need to be accounted for and this happens through deliberate Wireless Network Design. Yet even today, IT professionals have been sold to believe that Wi-Fi is simply a physical box that is plugged into a network, in a central location. Unfortunately this is when problems arise.

Solution and Design

Imagine what would happen if structural engineers were to build bridges on “gut instinct” by assembling various materials and resources. The same can be said for a Wi-Fi network where it will only ever be good as the way it was designed. Wireless Network Design is akin to being air traffic control, making sure the invisible and unmarked air “freeways” don’t overlap with each other. Just like planes need to arrive at their destination with zero obstructions in the sky, wireless data needs to get to its destination through invisible multi-lane highways. A well-designed wireless infrastructure knows how to navigate frequency (the highway system) and channels (the lanes).

But today, the Wi-Fi highway system is more crowded than ever with the rise of 5G. Now instead of a single 2.4G frequency, there is a new highway system called 5G. It would be easy to assume that the solution would be to adapt to a 5G frequency as it can pass data faster. But the range is much shorter and since 2.4G has been around for so long, many new IoT devices like Apple Watch and older Bluetooth devices still use 2.4.

Designing for these constraints was but one part of a 3-phase planning process for our client who wanted to take advantage of 5G but also needed a 2.4G environment due to their software testing needs on multiple devices and apps.

Phase 1: Discovery: Needs Analysis and Requirements Gathering

Through a series of meetings with the IT Director and other key stakeholders, Neetek’s focus in Phase 1 was a Needs Analysis to understand the current system infrastructure, pain points, as well as both functional requirements and constraints.

Functional requirements: What did they need the new system to do?

This covered both a big-picture understanding of what Wi-Fi needed to accomplish ( i.e. Make sure everyone can connect their smartphones and tablet to Wi-Fi), how client devices would access the network, usage, coverage area, capacity and location considerations as well as how the new network and access points would be monitored and managed.

Constraints: What does the new system have to work around?

We needed to understand any constraints including available budget, building aesthetics, building materials (concrete beams, studs, glass), neighboring Wi-Fi, device interference, timing and any pre-selection of access points. Most importantly, we needed to understand if structured cabling would need to be part of the solution.

All the insight and information gathered from Phase 1 was put into a proposed budget as well as a comprehensive Basis of Design Report before proceeding to Phase 2.

Phase 2: Designing the Network: Predictive Design

Once the requirements and constraints were quantified, the most optimal design solution could be determined through Predictive Design: literally predicting what the wireless data in the air would look like. Predictive Design took into account all the physical constraints uncovered in Phase 1 as well as additional collected information on floor plans and architectural data.

For example: what happens when a wireless signal needs to go from Point A to Point B but there’s a column in the middle, or an office also has a 14 foot deck with no ceiling?

Predictive Design helped our client to address dead spots and open spots, predictively understand overlap, the number of access points needed, where to install and how to install. Like an architect’s blueprint, we produced a Predictive Wireless Survey Report which was a comprehensive set of instructions for how the Wi-Fi network would be designed and the location of each Wi-Fi component.

Phase 3: Preconfiguration, Testing and Installation

The last phase in our solution was to configure all the Wi-Fi equipment according to the specifications from Phase 1 and install/deploy on-site to make it operational. The most important part of Phase 3 was the post-deployment wireless survey to ensure that all the requirements from Phase 1 were being satisfied immediately as well as a diagnostic tool to catch unforeseen future issues. The goal was to have a complete picture of Wi-Fi performance throughout their office Any diagnostic issues could be immediately addressed by reconfiguring a controller, the frequency or moving an access point.

Results

In addition to being on-time and on-budget, Neetek has designed a Wireless Network infrastructure that “doesn’t suck”. In fact, it delivers blazing fast connectivity in both a 5G and 2.4G environment so every single one our client’s 325 (confirm) employees can conduct their everyday tasks with speed and efficiency, driving productivity for our client.