50 Questions K-12 School Districts Should Ask WLAN Vendors
Lately, I have been working on a large, district wide wireless implementation here in Phoenix. It has served as inspiration for several blog posts about pre-implementation planning, as well as the importance of taking notes during system installation.
Working on this project sparked another thought – how do K-12 School Districts choose their wireless vendor in the first place? What should they consider in vendor selection? Below is my list of 50 questions districts should ask prospective WLAN vendors. After reading the list below, are there any questions you think I missed?
- Does WLAN vendor support all standard LAN and WLAN standards without proprietary solutions or protocols that will limit the ability to expand the Wi-Fi network?
- Can the vendor provide like type references?
- Is the platform, firmware, and software upgradable to support future evolution of the 802.11 standard (i.e. 802.11n, 802.v, 802.11w, etc.)?
- Does the vendor provide site survey services?
- Is there a separate cost for this?
- Does the vendor perform the survey?
- Is the same equipment to be deployed used for the survey?
- Is it a live survey, vs. just predictive software?
- Do they perform a Spectrum Analysis to identify possible noise sources?
- Do they guarantee the results?
- Will they provide heat maps of the coverage?
- Will the vendor do the install?
- Is the installation free?
- Does the vendor directly support their products or is support via a 3rd party?
- Does the vendor offer free on-site customer training on their product?
- Is Access point able to support all 802.11a channels (extended channels)?
- Is access point able to simultaneously support 802.11 a/b/g radios?
- Does the Access Point offer integrated high gain antennas for greater range?
Bandwidth and Supported Channels
- How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11b?
- How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11g?
- How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11a?
- How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11n?
- Does the Access Point support multiple (4 or more) independent radios?
- Does the Access Point offer a sectored antenna architecture, which equals higher data rates at longer ranges?
- Are the following security services supported:
- WEP, WPA & WPA2?
- Authentication: Open, MAC, 802.1x, Web Page Redirect?
- Integrated Stateful Firewall in the AP?
- Integrated RADIUS server in the AP?
- Integrated IDS/IPS sensor?
- Is switching performed at the Access Point?
- Is QoS tagging applied at access point?
- Is Filtering/Firewall Policies applied at Access point?
- Is encryption/decryption performed at the Access Point?
- If encryption/decryption performed at controller how many APs can it support before being oversubscribed?
- Are Wireless Distribution Services (WDS) available in the AP?
- Do proposed APs offer redundant uplink ports?
- Is Radio-to-Radio failover available?
- Is Direct AC power supported?
- Is POE over Gigabit connections supported?
- Does the AP support AC/DC redundancy?
RF Management Tools
- Does the proposed system offer an Integrated Spectrum Analyzer?
- Does the proposed system offer Auto Cell Sizing?
- Does the proposed system offer Auto Load Balancing?
- Does the proposed system offer Auto Channel Selection?
System Management Tools
- Does the proposed system offer Serial/CLI management?
- Does the proposed system offer Centralized SNMP management?
- Does the proposed system offer Web Based Management?
- Does the proposed system offer Management over the air?
- Does the proposed system offer Secure Management (SSH, HTTPS, etc.)?
- Can management traffic be disabled on all interfaces?