If your WiFi isn’t meeting the demands of your business it’s probably time for an upgrade. But unless you have an in-house wireless networking expert, the prospect can be pretty daunting.
Why a business WiFi upgrade deserves your full attention
In the past decade or so, WiFi has evolved from a nice-to-have convenience to a business-critical utility. In this context, any company investing in improving their wireless network must make sure it’s fit for purpose. Not just for today’s needs, but to support the long term health of the business.
It’s likely your business needs have changed over time. Combine that with advances in technology and changes in the wider business world. The chances are, your WiFi upgrade will involve more than simply swapping out old hardware for new. It’s important to factor in your longer term business plans and goals.
In addition, there’s the prospect of potential technological developments moving forwards. Granted, no one has a crystal ball, so there’s always some solid guestimating work to be done. However, if there are upcoming changes you know of, or believe are highly likely, it make sense to ensure your wireless network is designed to accommodate them.
Taking the right steps to carefully plan the changes to your wireless network could save your business considerable time, hassle and cost in the long run.
6 steps to a successful business WiFi upgrade
Here are six steps to take if you’re looking to improve the performance of your business WiFi network.
1) Consider WiFi usage throughout your business
One of the most important tasks you’ll take on as part of your business WiFi upgrade is careful planning. And it’s not just about coverage (although this is obviously important). Think about how your wireless network is used as well as where it’s used.
There could be areas where high density coverage is required. This is often where groups gather – e.g. lecture theatres, conference rooms, canteen/bar/cafe areas. In these areas, it’s not just about good WiFi coverage, it’s about having adequate capacity for user volumes and bandwidth demands.
Consider the number of simultaneous connections, along with the likely tasks users will want to perform. The usage of 100 people streaming live TV will differ from 100 people just doing basic internet browsing.
2) Complete a WiFi survey
This is absolutely critical to ensure your WiFi upgrade will meet your business needs. It helps you identify gaps in your current coverage/capacity and plan future coverage for the most efficient & effective signal saturation.
A correctly designed wireless network which positions the right access points in optimum positions will save cost and improve performance. Key to achieving this is a comprehensive WiFi survey.
3) Choose the right WiFi hardware & management controller
There’s many options when it comes to wireless networking hardware and management software. It’s important to make an informed decision and select something that will suit your needs now, but will also leave room to evolve and expand. This is where it helps to bring in a WiFi specialist to save you some of the research legwork.
Inevitably a significant constraint will be the budget you allocate for your WiFi upgrade project. You therefore need to make sure you’re factoring in any ongoing costs. For example licensing and support/management contracts.
4) Make sure your plan includes secure guest access
Most businesses will want to separate internal WiFi traffic from that of visitors or guests. This makes good sense to include as part of your network upgrade project. From a security perspective it can help protect your company’s sensitive data. It can also be used as a data capture tool for your business’s marketing or customer service programmes.
You’ll need to ensure that this is set up in a way that’s customisable and easy to manage.
5) Mitigate factors that will impact performance
Upgrading your business WiFi isn’t just about putting access points in the right places.
In practice, the downfall of many wireless networks is signal interference. Much of this is unavoidable. If you’re in a densely populated area such as a city centre, for example. In this case your WiFi is likely battling competing signals from surrounding wireless networks.
Again, this is where a good WiFi survey and specialist expertise will go a long way to heading off potential issues before they become disruptive and expensive. Environmental factors need to be carefully considered to ensure your wireless network is properly planned and configured around them.
Upgrading your old WiFi network also provides a good opportunity to review and remove/replace old, obsolete wireless devices. These can drag down your overall network performance. They can also store up compatibility issues as wireless security protocols improve. You don’t want to have to downgrade your entire network security just so Bob in Accounts can carry on using his 10 year old laptop.
Hanging on to dated technology isn’t just a false economy, it can pose more serious risks to your business.
6) Review post-upgrade WiFi performance in your business
It’s important to make sure that your WiFi network is fulfilling the objectives you set out during the planning stage of your upgrade project. This should be part of ongoing monitoring and maintenance post-installation.
Environmental factors, technology and business needs change over time. You’ll need to ensure your network is keeping up. An annual review of your configuration helps keep things running smoothly and highlights any tweaks that may be required.
Looking for help upgrading your business WiFi?
If you’re in the Bristol and Bath area contact us today for specialist business WiFi advice and installations.