Well prepared and well performed planning is crucial to secure an optimal communications infrastructure. This is not only important for serving the purpose of the network and to secure that the project is within budget; it must also meet the SLA agreed with your customer, and be predictable for the engineers who will do the actual installation of the endpoints.
Elements to consider:
Number and location of master-node candidates
In most radio network topologies, one or more master nodes are needed to connect the network directly to a server, a backhaul link or other networks. A master node is a gateway, forming a subnet of child nodes (endpoints). The position of each master node can be crucial to the number of masters needed to cover a given area with radio coverage and required capacity.
To find the best positions, it’s advised to identify potential master candidate positions. The possible master-node candidate positions are often required to be co-located with already existing infrastructure, and are thus important to take into consideration. Before you start the actual planning, it’s important to be aware of where they’re placed and which of these are optimal for connecting the most child nodes (endpoints).
Type of radio and frequency
Do you have more types of radios, including frequencies you want to examine for the project? In larger projects, the suppliers of the radios often want to see which type of radio, running on different frequencies, that will create the base of an optimal communications infrastructure.
Terrain and clutter
Clutter, or land use, is a critical layer for RF engineers looking to plan or optimize a wireless network. Clutter can be tailored to provide a powerful input to RF simulations for wireless operators and their vendors designing networks.
Prior to the actual planning project, it’s of great importance to have a GIS solution that provides you with an optimal resolution of the clutter information. You should also be aware, as early as possible, of the part of an area where you most likely will experience some kind of radio signal loss – forests, man made structures, etc.
Placement of the antenna
The placement of the antenna is of high importance when you plan your communications network. Does it have to be placed inside, or do you have the possibility to place it outdoors? How high can you place the antenna? This is all important to take into consideration before you start planning.
If the antenna has to be placed indoors, it’s important to know the structure of the building, and if applicable, the type of cabinet or similar in which the equipment will be installed. What impact could the structure of a house and/or a cabinet have on the radio signal? These are vital questions to consider.
The offer process
A communications planning tool is also excellent for planning all cost elements of the communications infrastructure in an offer. These are some common benefits:
- Get an early overview of all the equipment needed in your offer.
- Manage cost and risk associated with your offer.
- Form an initial idea on how the communications infrastructure will look like in the project phase.
- Showing the customer an initial radio plan.
- Showing the customer that you’re well prepared.