Simplifying your wireless install with the Pakedge WAP Map

August 07, 2014

This week we announced the rollout of a couple of cool software visualization features to help installers with the deployment of Pakedge wireless access points (WAPs) on a project.

One of these is the Pakedge WAP Map, an interactive online “heat map” planning tool that lets installers estimate the number of wireless access points (WAPs) they need, the approximate coverage area of each WAP, and target placement locations. You simply upload a floor plan of the project site, set the scale (very important!) of the floor plan, “drag and drop” the WAPs onto the plan to see the coverage area, and then move the WAPs around until you get the optimal coverage. After you are done, you can save the mapped floor plan and print it out. We’ve created a short minute long YouTube video of the Pakedge WAP Map here.

If the Pakedge WAP Map looks familiar, that’s because it is similar to the heat map function currently installed on the C36 WAP controllers. If your C36 WAP does not have the heat map feature, please update the firmware to the current version (no charge for firmware update).

The Pakedge WAP Map is free to use online for all your projects through our dealer portal. Upon logging into the dealer portal, look to the navigation menu on the left hand side of the screen. It is located under Dealer Tools. All Pakedge authorized resellers have access to the portal. If you are a Pakedge reseller and do not have access, please contact Customer Service to request an account. If you are not yet a Pakedge authorized reseller, please contact the Pakedge sales line at +1-650-385-8701 for a demonstration. 

So what can you do with the Pakedge heat map? Here’s our list of the ways you can use it:

  1. When bidding on a project, use it to estimate  the number of WAPs needed, as well as the approximate placement locations. When used in conjunction with the site visit, this helps you develop a better cost and time estimate in your client proposal.
  2. Provide a printout of the WAP Map with your proposal to show your client visually how they will be able to get the wireless coverage throughout the site. A visualization of the coverage area is important to helping your client understand your proposal, and more importantly, allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  3. Prior to arriving on the job site for the install, use the WAP Map to give the installer/technician a preview of the approximate WAP placement locations. The actual WAP locations may vary due to a lot of factors (interference from neighboring WAPs, building materials, or access issues), but the map will save some time by eliminating guesswork on where to start.
  4. Plan for the worse-case scenario (5.0 GHz band operation only). The Pakedge W7x series of WAPs are dual band units – operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands. The 2.4 GHz band has a higher range (and a wider coverage pattern) than the 5.0 GHz band, but it encounters more interference. There are also many devices that use the 2.4 GHz band only, so there are also many more users on that band. If you are installing a wireless network in an area where there is a lot of interference from neighboring WAPs, you can turn off the 2.4 GHz band in the WAP Map and see what kind of coverage you get, and more importantly, how many additional WAPs you need to add assuming you want to operate only in the 5.0 GHz band. To turn off the bands, just click “Hide” on the appropriate horizontal bar on the WAP Map.
  5. Optimize coverage for 2.4 and 5.0 GHz band applications. Because the 2.4 GHz band encounters more potential interference and has more users on it than the 5.0 GHz band, clients should use the 2.4 GHz band for email and web surfing activities where the bandwidth and latency requirements are not as critical. For high bandwidth, low latency applications like video streaming, teleconferencing or VOIP telephony, the 5.0 GHz band should be used for uninterrupted service. This means that in areas of the home or business where the primary application is video streaming or VOIP telephony (e.g. family room, conference room, etc.), you would plan the WAP placement based on the smaller coverage footprint of the 5.0 GHz band. This will increase the number of WAPs required, but it ensures that you have sufficient coverage through the 5.0 GHz band.

How has the Pakedge WAP Map helped you? What other ways are you using, or planning to use the WAP Map?  Please share with us your success stories and best practices!