Wireless Networks: The Basics of a Good WiFi Network

A business’ WiFi network is essential to ensure you can be responsive in today’s digital world. Employees require wireless options while traveling or working off-site, the layout of your physical plant may require wireless for online access, and your guests or customers may need WiFi to interact effectively with you. Your customers may even require WiFi as part of the services amenities you offer in the case of a hospitality business. Reliable WiFi has become a very important part of both business operations, and customer satisfaction. With many business computer components operating via a wireless network, there are several factors to consider as part of a business infrastructure to offer dependable and secure wireless access to your users.

A connected customer is a happy customer!

Important Considerations for Designing a Good Wireless Network Include:

  • Physical Environment – Where are we going to use our WiFi?
  • Application of the WiFi – How are we going to use our WiFi?
  • Number of Users – Who is going to use our WiFi?
  • Access – What are the best products for our WiFi?

When it comes to wireless networks, one size does not fit all. A healthcare facility or financial institution has very different security requirements of their WiFi than a coffee shop. A sprawling hotel built of cinder-blocks and steel beams needs far more access point considerations than a small real estate office. When wireless is used at your business, by employees or guests, your unique dependency on WiFi will determine the best network design for you.

When it comes to wireless networks, one size does not fit all.

We can break down WiFi requirements into these areas:

  • Stability
  • Security
  • Redundancy
  • Speed

Stability:

How important is it that your WiFi doesn’t go down?
It is crucial that you invest in good products at a price point to fit your budget. WiFi routers, antennas, and other access products need to fit the application. A marina or campground where conditions are harsh and spread out requires very different products than a local flower shop. Purchase proven technology that is durable, reliable, and offers ongoing service and support. Every WiFi layout should have the right number of access points, positioned in the right locations, to accommodate the necessary users. With good planning for the products you install and their positioning, you can ensure your WiFi is dependable and avoid disruptive downtime.

Security:

How sensitive is the information that will be transmitted across your WiFi?
If your wireless network transmits anything involving private information of your users or proprietary data for your business, it requires certain security measures. While users may understand “access at your own risk” at the local coffee shop, your customers in your waiting room or cashing out with you via credit information expect a level of security for their information. Encryption and protection of private information is always a priority, and for businesses that regularly handle sensitive data, essential. Part of WiFi network design potentially includes public versus Admin access, separate login areas for general public use as opposed to access where your private business data is stored. Having an open WiFi network is an invitation for malicious intent. Having a password protected WiFi, and potentially segmenting login access creates more secure wireless networks.

Redundancy:

How many users/devices need to access your WiFi and where?
Redundancy, having backup access to your wireless network, provides more consistent access for your users, and helps prevent the WiFi from crashing or “going down”. If you rent out a conference room at your facility, for example, your renter is dependent on your WiFi and it cannot go down. If your employees can’t work because the wireless is down, you lose a lot of time and money in productivity and potentially lost customers. Do you need a second way to get out if the first one goes down? Building in extra access points and antennas, that users can access when necessary, avoids bottlenecks, crashes and angry customers.

Think of your wireless network as a sprinkler system. It can only cover so much area, so the placement of the individual router devices is critical to getting good coverage. Some overlap guarantees coverage is consistent and dependable.

Speed:

How many people need to access your WiFi?
Five people accessing a WiFi network versus 500 is a big difference! The number of users that need to access your wireless at any given time, along with the amount of broadband your wireless runs off, determines the speed at which your WiFi operates. It is important that the right products, layout and design of the network, and the speed that you purchase from your service provider fits the demands of your WiFi network. If you can’t afford greater broadband, you can try installing additional antennas. Some businesses restrict bandwidth during certain periods of time, or to prevent slowing speed, but that is getting to be increasingly unacceptable by customers. Purchase the right amount of broadband, and install products that can handle the necessary bandwidth, so you have the necessary speed and avoid chokepoints.

Broadband is the minimum speed at which your connection will transfer information. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can transfer to and from your computer.

A slow internet is as bad a no internet.

Think of your business WiFi as it’s information super highway. How many on-ramps do you need to ensure that your users (drivers) can get on the highway when they needs to and not be bottlenecked. You need enough on-ramps so your users can cruise right onto the highway without being slowed down. We all appreciate a smooth commute!

If you need assistance designing a new wireless network or help getting your existing WiFi operating better – Information Systems of Maine can help. We are experts at designing and problem-solving all networking issues – connecting is what we do!

Posted in Business IT, Security, Wireless Networks

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