Transforming large-scale wireless access point installation with SignalTEK NT – A Case Study
About the company
Select Property Care is a small, successful installer based in Florida, USA which specialises in working with hospitality sector customers.
A large part of the business is focused on installing high speed guest internet access in large hotels across the US.
What was the challenge?
Select Property Care were tasked with installing 760 wireless access points and 50 HP switches at a 1400 room four-star chain hotel in Philadelphia, with only a two-man team to deliver the job.
The job needed to be executed efficiently to minimise network downtime and with as little disruption to the hotel’s guests as possible. As they are paid for the job rather than on a day-rate, it was also important for the installation to be completed quickly to ensure that it was profitable.
Previously, this type of job would be carried out using a laptop, tone and probe, and basic testing equipment. In order to locate where all the different cabling went and to what switches, one installer would need to be based in the intermediate distribution frame (IDF ) closet to visually confirm when the lights went off or to tone the jacks out.
However, with 800 access points and complex cabling mixed IP TVs going to all of the hotel rooms, this manual method would not have allowed the job to be completed in a suitable time frame for the hotel client. It also would have meant spending longer in the guest’s rooms to identify whether the new access point was plugged into the correct switch and its port, and potentially returning to the room later to check everything was working.
What was the solution?
To more easily identify where the cables went and to which switches, Select Property Care purchased the SignalTEK® NT from IDEAL Networks. This transformed the installation process, as with the SignalTEK NT installers were able to simply plug in and check the data jack in the hotel room to confirm if it was pulling an expected IP address from the VLAN dedicated to the access points as well as checking it was plugged into the correct switch. In ten seconds or less, the SignalTEK NT provided information on which port it was plugged into and the MAC address for the switch so installers knew what needed to be unplugged and connected to the new switch.
This made a huge difference to the way we work because what used to be a two-person job could now be done more quickly, and by just one installer, and without the need to go back and forth to the IDF closet,” says Josh Whicker of Select Property Care. “The SignalTEK NT told us where the port was on the switch so we could then verify that the equipment was active remotely. This meant we could leave the guest room and did not need to go back – when working in a hotel you have to be fast and get in and out quickly .”
What were the benefits?
Productivity was increased. Without the need for someone to be based in the IDF closet or several different pieces of equipment, one installer can now do the work of two. This allowed the job to be completed more quickly and freed up capacity to enable the company to take on more work.
“To increase productivity on this job, we needed to either invest in extra labour or better equipment. Without investing in the SignalTEK we wouldn’t have been able to take on this job – the time taken to conduct the installation and testing would not have been profitable to the business,” says Josh Whicker of Select Property Care .
Ease of use. As well as being less cumbersome than using a laptop in conjunction with several other pieces of equipment, the SignalTEK is small and portable making it easier to transport around the work site or to use in tight spaces. The colour display is also designed to be clear and easy to read. Josh explains “The SignalTEK NT was really good for this job because it was quick to use, light weight, with long battery life and it’s durable. We also found it easy and fast to learn how to use all the functions we needed on the tester.”
Quality control. With SignalTEK NT, installers were able to check that the equipment was working correctly in just a few seconds without leaving the hotel guest room. This ensured that the job had been delivered to the required standard while they were still on site, and importantly minimised disruption to paying hotel guests. Using an IDEAL Networks tester also allowed installers to export reports at the end of the test to offer proof to the client that the installation is working correctly.
Network downtime was reduced. The faster installation time meant that there was significantly less disturbance to the hotel’s network, helping to ensure the client’s expectations were exceeded. Using the SignalTEK NT empowers installers to check the information they require without the need to ask an IT manager for support, which could cause delays and increase the job completion time.
Knowledge and support. Prior to purchase SignalTEK NT, Select Property Care were able to seek advice and information from IDEAL Networks to ensure they purchased the right equipment for their specific needs.
“In the past we have bought equipment that didn’t prove useful, so being able to speak to someone knowledgeable really helped us to make our decision. Although online videos and manuals are useful, having the chance to talk to IDEAL Networks meant we could ask specific field based questions to be 100 per cent sure that our investment was going to be useful,” adds Josh .
About SignalTEK NT: SignalTEK NT is a copper and fibre network transmission tester that enables installers to conduct IP testing, performance testing, cable testing and wiremap testing.
SignalTEK NT allows users to prove the performance up to Gigabit Ethernet transmission rates. By simulating actual network traffic users are able to test and document network and data cable performance to Gigabit Ethernet standards. The SignalTEK NT is also a cost effective way of proving copper and fibre networks provide error-free performance and can automatically generate test reports in a choice of formats.
For more information on SignalTEK NT or the full range of cabling and network testers from IDEAL Networks, visit www.idealnetworks.net.
Read the article in Networks Europe on page 36.