WiFi Heat Map or Spectrum Analysis, which one do you need?
If you're in the process of implementing a WiFi network, you have read or heard about the importance of a WiFi heat map or Spectrum Analysis. What does it really mean to create a WiFi heat map or Analyze the WiFi spectrum?
Let's start with heat maps. A Wireless Heat map is the graphical representation of the Access Point radio signal coverage over a physical area. In other words, during the planning of a WiFi network implementation, WiFi network engineers evaluate the location of the network and, using a WiFi heatmap application, can determine the best possible location for the Access Points based on the results output of the application. The process is simple and straight forward, you upload or create a floor plan of the location to the application, drop in Access Points at various points on the floor plan, and let the application do the calculations. The application's output will show you the area where the signal is the strongest and how it dissipates across the floor, creating WiFi coverage and dead zones.
WiFi heat maps are a great planning tool but should be used with a broad understanding of how Network and Wireless technologies work. There are many more factors that must be considered that are not addressed by the heat map. Physical obstacles, construction materials, and wireless utilizations are factors that a heatmap does not account for; this is the WiFi engineer's responsibility to look at the whole picture when planning a Wireless implementation.
A Spectrum Analysis, on the other hand, has the ability to look at radio signals emitting actively
at any given time over the wireless spectrum. As you're able to see the background signals from your Wireless network and other devices in the vicinity, you'll be able to identify signal interference not seen by regular WiFi scanners. To perform a Wireless Spectrum Analysis, you need special equipment capable of seeing raw wireless communication; it is especially useful when wireless networks do not perform as desired even when there's enough WiFi signal coverage. Actually, people believe that because they have a strong signal from the Access Points, they should not have any issue, but the truth is that you can have a poorly performed WiFi network with powerful signals.
As Wireless experts in Northern NJ and NYC, we perform both heatmap and Wireless network analysis. Whether you're planning a new implementation or need to troubleshoot the WiFi in your existing network environment, you can count on us to provide the support and help you need.