What Is The PWDM?

  • A practical methodology of deploying or upgrading WLANs that takes into account business requirements, policies, people and environment in addition to the actual types of platforms (technology) involved.

  • A procedural series of steps which are applicable to any private or public WLAN deployment.

The emphasis on each step within the PWDM, or whether it is used or bypassed, depends on the type (private or public) and subtype (SOHO / SME / Enterprise or Paid / Free) of WLAN being deployed.

For example, a SME might not have the budget to deploy a full-blown enterprise-grade WPA solution but would still be able to follow the PWDM for other areas. A SOHO setup is unlikely to have to contend with the site's Building Management compared to a Hotspot.

Development Background & Objective

Wireless local area networks (WLANs), based on the IEEE 802.11 standard, are becoming increasingly pervasive throughout all sectors of society and industry. Consequently, as more organizations put up 802.11-based networks, they rely on the vendors and/or system integrators of the hardware purchased to either do the WLAN installation/upgrade or provide documentation or resources for the roll-out.

While the number of hardware vendors has increased, resulting in a wide variety of platforms and system integrators from which to choose, there remains no consistent methodology to provide a guide to the issues facing a WLAN rollout or equipment upgrade and the WLAN's continued operation. Each deployment is left to its own devices and the skill of the people involved in the deployment. Where there is no baseline guide to follow, important aspects of a deployment may be overlooked.

While many people wax lyrical about the obvious technological issues such as the use of WEP/WPA/WPA2, they often fail to address other factors that are more likely to impact the successful rollout and continued operation of the network than a mere Access Point(AP)-centric technical setting, such as power considerations, cable plant routing, SLA-impact potential, etc.

Irrespective of the type of WLAN, whether it is operated by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) providing a paid/free public service or whether it is a private network for the use of an organization, there are certain common categories of issues that the installing or upgrading organization will face. These issues are not always technical in nature. Granted there are wireless-encryption-issues abounding; however technological platforms are seldom the sole factor in determining the success or failure of a project: people, policies and procedures are more likely to cause failure and often have a greater impact on the operations and security of the WLAN.

Thus, to address this gap in deployment methodology, i've put together the Practical Wireless Deployment Methodology (PWDM) to share lessons learnt from first-hand experience in deployment, security and operations at the largest (at that time in 2001-2002) hotspots in SouthEast Asia, StarHub's HotZones at Singapore's Changi Airport Terminals 1 & 2 and Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre and various other wireless-related projects.

The PWDM is intended to act as a high-level general guide which covers the various phases in a WLAN deployment within which various tasks should be undertaken to address various issues one would typically encounter in a WLAN deployment. The key is in recognizing that, although some steps may have varying degrees of importance for different categories of WLANs, the process of going through the PWDM's methodological steps is something that seldom changes across different types of WLAN deployments.

As the PWDM is a high-level framework or skeleton that people can use to guide their wireless deployments and/or upgrades, it is not intended to give specific technical-level instruction on how to accomplish each step in the methodology as people might have their own ways of doing things on an implementation level. For those interested in obtaining the "meat" to fill in around the "bones", you can take a look at the Open Source Wireless Integration Security Professional (OSWiSP), a comprehensive secure wireless deployment training course which teaches how to technically execute each of the different steps under the PWDM or the Organizational Systems Wireless Auditor (OSWA), the most comprehensive hands-on wireless auditing certification which teaches you how to conduct a full practical wireless penetration-test/audit for the UAT section of the PWDM.

In developing and distributing this methodology for the deployment or upgrading of WLANs, I hope to illustrate the importance of following a consistent methodology in addressing immediate and long-term technical/non-technical issues surrounding the installation, upgrading and operation of a WLAN and also to provide a resource that can be used by others as they roll out WLANs for their organizations or themselves.

All the best for your WLAN deployment or upgrade!

                Julian Ho
                PWDM Creator & Maintainer

Download The PWDM

PWDM - Current Version:29 July 2010 (ver1.6) (now with Appendices for Technical Level Implementation Activities)

PWDM - Date First Published:10 May 2005 (ver1.0)

Practical Wireless Deployment Methodology(PWDM) Copyright(c)2005-2010 Julian Ho. All Rights Reserved. This work is licensed using Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License. You may not use this work except in compliance with the License.

Download the current PWDM version (zipped PDF)
(after unzipping, you can verify the integrity of the PDF file using MD5 against the following hash: View MD5 hash)

If you have any comments, suggestions or feedback on how we can further improve on the methodology, I'd love to hear from you;
please email pwdm [@]
(please remove the [ ] brackets and spaces from the email address).


Thanks go to the following people for suggestions to helping improve the methodology:

  • Christopher Low


29 July 2010PWDM version 1.6 released on PWDM.NET.

1 May 2009PWDM version 1.5 released on PWDM.NET.

16 Jan 2006PWDM version 1.4 released on PWDM.NET.

9 Jan 2005Formatting revision 1.3.

12 Dec 2005Formatting revision 1.2.

9 Dec 2005Formatting revision 1.1.

29 Nov 2005PWDM version 1.0 uploaded to PWDM.NET.

10 May 2005PWDM version 1.0 first publicly printed and released in printed hardcopy.