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Estimate Number of Access Points Needed For providing WiFi

Last Modified: 2020-05-27
How To Estimate Number of Access Points Needed For providing WiFi service in a building and what is the access point coverage area?
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Jakob DigranesSenior advisor

there are several ways of doing a site survey,
* from the easy one using visual (looking) and experience and given metrics - like an AP can cover 30 meters around
* using a site survey software - either ekahau or vendor specific software - using floor plans with wall type added to it, concrete wall - glass, light wall etc
* to the real deal with buying one or two APs and mount and register signal strength when it drops below -60RSSI
Take a look at this fun video - explains a lot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NznVb99tgqc 

Also - consider that the building is different with and without people and possibly furniture. Try to design using people rather than space. estimate for 3 devices per user - and keep active device count around 75 - 100 per AP (depending on which AP you're using !) - cheap APs handle less - high end APs can cope with 100 devices easily (as most won't send and receive simultaneously)

- And look at what channels are available to use. I reckon you use 802.11ac that's using 5Ghz only - where you should have enough channels available to avoid overlap.

- but as a rule of thumb - for my last designs.

1. choose equipment from enterprise vendor (HPE Aruba is my drug of choice, but other vendor will without a doubt do the job aswell)
2. try to keep a line of sight between devices and AP. Walls and doors tend to block signal. Keep in mind that concrete, metal, elevators, machinery eats wifi signal
3. mount APs in ceiling - with omni-direct antennas, no more than 3 meters above floor.
4. I'd reckon 15 - 18 meters between APs as a start

David Johnson, CDSimple Geek from the '70s
Distinguished Expert 2019

No real way of estimating without doing a physical site survey.  Signal strength is only one metric, then there is also congestion. A setup designed for 50 people will be unacceptable for 500 people.

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