Wi-Fi can be a wonderful thing: Your smartphone or laptop automatically connects to your Wi-Fi network, even if you’ve previously connected to a different network elsewhere.
The signal is strong, and stays this way, even if you take your device around your building in the course of your work. If there is more than one access point, your device seamlessly connects to the closest one to you, automatically and seamlessly.
I’ve just described the perfect Wi-Fi network. As you may have experienced, the reality is that it doesn’t always work like this! Maybe it connects, but then disconnects after a while. Perhaps the signal looks strong, but you can’t browse the internet or access email. Or maybe you can connect, but the internet is hair-pullingly weak! (Yes, Oxford English Dictionary, I just invented the adverb hair-pullingly, please credit me when you eventually list it😉). So, what makes for an excellent network? Here are 6 important areas to cover:
When your ISP (Internet Service Provider) installs your broadband service, they provide a basic router which generally includes wireless capability which allows a few devices to connect to it, as well as basic firewall protection, which gives a minimum level of protection against cyberthreats. This is usually fine for a home, or small office. If however, you have an organisation of 10 or more people, have a large building which needs Wi-Fi throughout, or have guests who require access, you may require a more robust solution like a SOHO (Small Office/Home Office), or Enterprise class router. Starting prices for SOHO routers are quite reasonable, and you can expect to pay more for higher specifications devices, depending on security requirements or number of users who need to connect. Better quality routers also provide increased security, and are generally more reliable, maintaining a robust connection without requiring an occasional reboot, as is the case for some entry level devices.
Routers generally have built in wireless capability, to enable several devices to connect. However, if the physical environment is large, or is comprised of 2 or more floors with several rooms or other obstacles to signal like elevator shafts etc, 1 or more wireless access points may be required. These access points are physically connected to the router via data cable and mounted in areas where coverage is needed. Depending on the building construction and numbers of access points, it should be possible to walk through an environment with a mobile device such as a phone or laptop, and not lose network access, as the device automatically connects to the closest access point in it’s vicinity.
It is possible to connect to a wireless network but not receive broadband coverage. This usually means there is an issue with the broadband itself, either at the device or ISP level. This can sometimes be tricky to trouble shoot, so call us if you need any help with this.
If you organisation sometimes has guests who wish to use your wireless network, its best practice to have them connect to a separate network from yours, to maintain your own IT security, and to prevent your network from being infected by any malware which happens to be on the guest’s device. Setting up a guest network is fairly straightforward and is something we recommend to all clients with occasional Wi-Fi guests.
Clear Network Naming
When setting up wireless networks, the router software assigns a default name. This can and should be changed to a recognisable name so that its clear to users which one to connect to, especially if there are several networks to choose from.
Careful Password Management
Having strong password for your wireless network is advisable, as well as changing this periodically. It is an extra precaution from anyone who guesses an already weak password and their browsing activity might intentionally or accidentally damage your network.
Once you take these 6 areas into account when creating a wireless network (and assuming you have a minimally acceptable download speed from your broadband provider), you should have a great Wi-Fi network which allows your staff and customers to connect while keeping your network secure. Questions? Give us a shout at 091 395413 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to provide some pointers.