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Site survey and design

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Site survey and design are critical elements when administering a WLAN, gather the information prior to installing the equipment, because once the network is implemented it's too late to change the design, you need to get it right the first time.

  • What are the requirements of the network?
  • How large is the network?
  • Who will use the network?
  • How will the network evolve in the future?
  • What are the security requirements, authentication, encryption?
  • What level of access is required?

Integration with other security protocols, smart cards, key fobs etc, you will need to look at the equipment requirements, the number of client computers, access points.

  • Is the equipment being integrated with existing equipment?
  • What range is required?
  • How much power is needed?

You need to look at the site itself the physical layout.

  • What obstructions and interference to the signal are there?
Computer Studies wireless router

The placement of access points, antennas and other equipment, any restrictions by law where you may need permits etc, what safety measures should be enforced, you need to document all these requirements and considerations in planning the design of the network, the MAC addresses of the equipment and the make, model and serial numbers etc.

Home networks there is usually one access point and between two to six computers or laptops a Cable or DSL modem, it could be that there is different hardware involved making configuration a little harder than that of a business that uses all the same brands, security is of upmost importance as most home wireless network access points use default settings to make it easier to setup for the user, home networks can be Ad-Hoc or Infrastructure, Ad-Hoc or computer to computer or Independent basic service set, usually setup for quick temporary connections, Infrastructure mode or basic service set where an access point connects a number of wireless devices to a network, some things that should be done is change the default SSID name and disable the broadcast, enable encryption WEP or WPA/WPA2, enable MAC address filtering, use DHCP, change the frequency channel if there are other networks nearby causing interference to the signal, place the access point in an high location, position away from cordless phones or other devices that may cause electrical interference, use the firewall to limit access, change the default password, find out what ports will be utilised to allow or deign access.

Small SOHO and medium sized networks present more of a challenge than home networks although the same principles are involved, they are usually configured in one of two ways Basic service set or Extended service set (using multiple access points) these networks require planning and design, with small businesses there may be limited resources, there may be no network administrator, you will need to document design and record configuration details, IP addresses, passwords, encryption keys and turn them over to the office manager, you may need to train personnel in basic troubleshooting procedures, change the default SSID name and disable the broadcast, enable encryption WEP or WPA/WPA2, enable MAC address filtering, use a defined DHCP range, change the frequency channel if there are other networks nearby which are causing interference to the signal, enable inbound filtering of dangerous protocols telnet, remote desktop, ftp etc, if a security policy exists configure the access point to support it, use reserved addresses for servers and networked printers, always have a RJ 45 connection to the access point for maintenance, try to put the access points in secure areas, find out the level of support offered by the internet service provider, you might need to enable remote administration for a small business.

Enterprise networks require a more defined and rigorous effort in administration, documentation is a necessity, equipment and software standardisation, may require dedicated administrators for the wireless network alone, there is usually defined areas of administration, users support, help desk, backup, redundancy, security, maintenance, planning and integration is constant in an enterprise network, maintain a full equipment list, document every aspect of the network, set defined security policies and procedures, maintain inventory and audit trials, plan for growth in advance, be familiar with applicable compliance regulations and policies (SOX, FCC, Electronics communications privacy act, HIPAA) if they apply to your enterprise, be familiar with any standards IEEE, Wi-Fi, NIST, DoD that apply to your work, you should be prepared to support a wide variety of users and technologies, become a technical expert and be pro-active in securing and managing the network.

A free video course on installing a wireless network www.homepcbuilder.com

Wireless wikipedia.org
Wireless Networks wikipedia.org

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