The deployment of a voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) system offers tremendous value to organizations. A VoWLAN system, for instance, enables companies to significantly reduce communications delays by cost-effectively equipping employees with mobile phones that operate over a wireless LAN that also supports data applications. As a value-added reseller (VAR) or systems integrator deploying VoWLAN systems, you should consider the following process which can significantly reduce risk and improve the success of the project.
The following are steps that will lead to a winning VoWLAN solution.
Perform a VoWLAN ROI analysis
Before going too far with the sale and deployment, it's important to perform a return on investment (ROI) study that quantifies benefits and outlines the costs for hardware, software and services in order to install and support the system. The ROI is often necessary for securing funding for the project. It's very important to spot problems that the company is having before justifying a VoWLAN solution. Analyze situations where people are often mobile and need to communicate with other employees or people outside the facility. Look for delays that employees have when responding to important events and the costs of not having immediate communications. For a doctor, even five minutes to look for an available phone, for example, is likely too long when responding to a page for a patient needing prompt attention.
It's critical to fully understand requirements, such as number of users, existing data traffic, roaming needs, security and anything else that will provide a basis for the design. A designer uses these requirements when making decisions on which technologies to utilize and how to configure the network.
Design the system
The design of any system uncovers technical elements that together explain how the system will satisfy requirements. This includes a definition of the system architecture, effective configuration of access points, optimal location of access points, applicable configuration settings for voice gateways and configuration of wireless IP phones.
Install and test the system
When deploying a VoWLAN system, you will need to install and configure access points, call manager software and wireless IP phones. VoWLAN systems utilize radio waves, so it's essential to perform a radio frequency (RF) site survey to uncover any existing RF interference and determine the optimal locations for installing access points. After installing the entire system, tests should be run to verify that the system is meeting requirements and needs of the users.
Plan operational support
Operational support can contribute to nearly 50% of the total lifecycle costs of a VoWLAN system. As a result, be sure to fully plan related operational support. Support elements for wireless LANs are similar to those for typical wired networks; however, wireless support must take into account the uniqueness of radio wave propagation and mobile devices. For example, you will need to train the help desk on how to troubleshoot varying wireless connection and battery issues.
About the author
Jim Geier is the principal of Wireless-Nets Ltd., a consulting firm focusing on the implementation of wireless mobile solutions. He is the author of the books, Deploying Voice over WLANs(Cisco Press), Wireless LANs (SAMs) and Wireless Networks - First Step (Cisco Press).