Radio Frequency Site Survey

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A wireless site survey involves an actual physical site survey conducted on an onsite by various RF measuring tools to analyze the propagation of RF signals (Kothari, Krishnan, Ebenezer, & SatyaMurty, 2015). Contrary to predictive site survey, a physical survey is conducted on a real-time basis and in real-world radio frequency environment allowing for analysis to be conducted as well as simulation of the applications to be used. A wireless site survey also called radio frequency site survey involves the process and technique of developing and scheming a wireless network with the aim of providing a wireless solution for delivering the essential wireless coverage and quality of service.

The wireless site survey process consists of visiting the site for testing RF interloping and identification of the optimum system settings for access points. The primary requirements include comprehensive exploration of the structure floor plans, inspecting the facility and using site survey gears. During the process, discussions with the information technology management as well as with the end consumers of the wireless network are conducted with the aim of determining the design parameters for the wireless network. During the wireless site survey, an operative range frontier is determined defining the region over which signal levels required to support the projected application. For that to happen, the minimum signal to noise ratio (SNR) is determined for supporting the performance requirements. In addition, wireless site surveys may also involve walk-testing, auditing, and diagnosis of an existing wireless network, mainly a network that does not offer the expected and required level of service (Liu, Darabi, Banerjee, & Liu, 2007).   

One major question with physical site survey is deciding when to perform it or when it is necessary. Upon discussing with the client on the intended application for the wireless network and the nature of the environment projected to operate, such information is useful in making that determination. Common examples of where site survey could be performed include busy hospitals having different types of Wi-Fi obstacles and interference.  There are several tools involved in conducting a wireless site surveys. Some of the most vital tools include a laptop with a site survey software, tripod for mounting and elevating the access point to the required heights, and an RF spectrum analysis software. A digital camera is another important tool for documenting specific locations.

Wireless site Survey Process

A successful wireless site survey process requires a computer software used for collecting and analyzing WLAN metrics and/or RF spectrum features. Prior to the survey, a sitemap is introduced into a survey application and regulated to a standard scale. The surveyor, during the survey, inspects the facility with a portable computer designed to record the data continuously. The surveyor could mark the current position on the floor plan manually or by a GPS receiver that is automated to mark the current position. Once the survey is completed, data analysis is done before documenting the survey results under the site survey reports produced by the application. The use of the modern software has an automated system that aids in data collection, analysis, and visualization. However, before the modern software, all the tasks were done manually either recording or processing of the data. Implementation of a wireless network featuring an optimal coverage requires prior comprehensive understanding of the radio frequency performance on site.


Kothari, S., Krishnan, T. S., Ebenezer, J., & SatyaMurty, S. A. V. (2015, September). Development of network debugging tools for IEEE 802.15. 4 networks. In Wireless and Optical Communications Networks (WOCN), 2015 Twelfth International Conference on (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

Liu, H., Darabi, H., Banerjee, P., & Liu, J. (2007). Survey of wireless indoor positioning techniques and systems. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C (Applications and Reviews), 37(6), 1067-1080.

September 11, 2023
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