Wireless network professionals involved with design and survey work are in a really good place right now. The market leaders are innovating their way past the competition often (and impressively). Just a few weeks ago Ekahau unleashed their new Sidekick, and now iBwave has just announced their latest round of features with their new R9 software.
Quick Review- Where iBwave Stands Out
Before going forward, let me walk you back to these two articles about iBwave that I wrote earlier in the year:
- Learning to Use iBwave For Wi-Fi Design
- Getting to Know iBwave For Wi-FI Design (on IT Toolbox site)
If you don’t want to check those out, it’s a-OK. The quick and dirty of what I really like about iBwave are these differentiators:
- 3D Modeling of WLAN Environment
- A mobile app that is really functional and that can interact with the full suite
- The ability to properly model inclined surfaces
- Cloud synchronization of survey projects (super handy)
- A no-cost license-free viewer for customers to see what the design team sees without buying the iBwave software
Every competing tool has their strengths, but iBwave really has done well to combine accuracy of their tools with fresh approaches to process and usability.
And… the New Stuff
So what got added to the already-slick (and very effective) iBwave design suite with the R9 release? It’s a mix of catching up with the competition in spots, tweaking what already works to be better, and adding a couple of really cool features.
The user interface itself has gone through a couple of iterations since the Wi-Fi version was released a couple of years ago (recall that iBwave has deep roots designing cellular systems as well). I tested the January ’17 version, and was impressed then. I was invited to be a beta tester on what would become R9, but the timing was bad for me so I’ll have to give the new version a run-through in the days to come, but I have heard good things about the tweaks made along the way.
Added to overall UI enhancements are the ability to designate coverage exclusion zones (already in some competing tools) and to support software-definable radios (the latest dual-5 GHz “flex” radios). Also not an industry first, but iBwave’s customers will appreciate it as these radios gain in popularity.
Then there is the truly cool stuff. Now, once you have your floor-plans scaled and your walls and attenuation sources modeled properly, you can drag APs around and see what iBwave calls Smart Antenna Contouring. This is basically on-the-fly real-time views (or as real as time gets when working in WLAN design) of how the cells of individual access points and antennas will be affected by their surroundings. It’s really neat to see, and very empowering to the design process.
For those of us charged with also designing the underlying wiring system that our WLANs run on, iBwave’s R9 adds a fantastic utility in the form of Auto Cable Routing. Here, you place the cable tray and riser locations, and the software will make sure that added cables automatically take that path. When your working with lots of cable, this amounts to lots of time saved in the design and documentation processes.