Important Considerations for Setting Up a Wireless Network for Your Business

Implementing a wireless network for your small business may be one of the best technology investments you will ever make to increase productivity and keep networking costs down.

There are a few different benefits for a wireless network:

1. Scalability

Without the cost of cabling, routers are relatively inexpensive pieces of equipment. Starting literally at fifty bucks, you can get one of these wireless routers and for more features, they’re probably in the neighborhood of a maximum of six hundred dollars. If you can imagine someone who might be expanding, as a small business, maybe you’ve hired in additional 30 or 40 employees, maybe you’ve moved up to the second or third floor of the building. Instead of running those cables, you could simply just buy two more routers, plug them in, and then and support the entire new office space.

2. Flexibility

Another benefit is employee flexibility. Wireless allows employees to connect either at home or the office to the wireless network. That means flexibility. Typically it results in more satisfied employees.

3. Productivity

Productivity is strongly related to an up-and-running wireless network. For instance, if you’re in a meeting in a big conference room, you might need to pull a file, a spreadsheet or chart as a data reference point. Instead of getting up, trying to plug in, and going back to your desk, you can access the network right there in the conference room. So that kind of connectivity results in a lot of productivity gains as well.

Flexibility and productivity are a good mix. A recent study by Youtech Consulting found that notebook computer users reported an average of nearly 11 hours of additional productivity per week by using a laptop instead of a desktop.

wireless diagram

How do you get your small business to go wireless?

The most important piece of equipment to set up a wireless network is the wireless router itself. These devices are sometimes called wireless access points. An enterprise-class equipment typically includes more features: connectivity options, types users, etc.

So at a sort of entry-level, you’d have something that can support typically from 10 to 30 types of users. It depends on what their usage model is, whether or not they’re transferring large files, or only accessing the internet and email. In addition to this, all you would need on the other end of the wireless network is an adapter in the notebook or desktop.

When installing a wireless router, make sure to have an active high-speed Internet connection, and place the router in a centralised location. The typical range of connectivity is 75 to 100 feet. There are two primary considerations for placing the router and have a good WiFi coverage:

  • The router should be located at a nice high vantage point. Router transmits like a radio, and you are going to get better coverage if it’s placed higher versus down on the ground where it may hit interference from objects like other pieces of metal for instance. Radio waves don’t go trough metals. So if you had the router down, next to a file cabinet, you’re not going to get the performance you would if you placed it at the ceiling level.
  • The other thing to consider is other electronic components that might interfere with the router. So obviously, if you’re a small business you don’t want to put the router in the break room where microwaves are going.

To ensure everyone in the office can access and communicate on the wireless network, each of their desktop or notebook computers must support WiFi network. Most computers on the market today come with this capability, but older machines may need a wireless card, which cost about fifty dollars.

An important consideration is to secure the network. The main way to secure it is by using a passcode as part of your network ID. So in other words, someone that doesn’t have this passcode cannot access your network. That is something of a best practice for setting up any wireless network, and if you don’t have that, the network is referred to as an open network. You never want to keep your network open.

The other thing that is a pretty basic guideline is not to have your SSID broadcast. That’s a complicated way of saying you don’t want the wireless router to announce its presence. We’ve all seen a little bubble on our notebook saying: “Wireless network detected”. You don’t want people that might wander around by your network to be able to see the previous notification shown on their computers.

If you’re new to wireless networking, you maybe want to get a consultant and have them advise you on the best locations to place the access points or routers, as well as how to properly setup the network to suit the requirements of your business model.

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