With more workers using mobile hardware such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones, Wi-Fi is becoming the default network connection in many workplaces. While it can’t match a wired network for speed and security, the ease of access and flexibility are often worth the trade-off.
But slow connections, unwanted traffic, weak signals, and old technology can all contribute to a frustrating network experience – and start impacting the flow of information and employee performance.
We’ve compiled six tips that can help your business speed up your Wi-Fi network and increase security to boot:
- Lock Down Your Wi-Fi
- Separate Guest Wi-Fi from Your Main Network
- Position your Routers or Access Points Correctly
- Consider Boosting Your Signal
- Use a Channel with Less Traffic
- Update Your Hardware to Leverage New Technology
Lock Down Your Wi-Fi
It should go without saying, but if your network is unsecured, you are likely losing bandwidth to opportunistic data leeches and leaving your organization open to data theft. “But we have a password!” you say. Okay, but is it a strong one to begin with? And when did you last update it?
Remember, anyone who had access to your network will still enjoy that access for as long as your password is in effect – including former employees, visitors, and anyone else who’s ever logged into your Wi-Fi. Scheduling regular password updates is a good way to boost security and keep Wi-Fi access reserved for only those who need it – your employees.
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Separate Guest Wi-Fi from Your Main Network
Speaking of visitors having access to your network, it makes sense to set up a separate guest Wi-Fi network for those you do business with, but don’t work for you. Connectivity is important, and your contacts will appreciate the ability to access documents during meetings and reply to emails while on your premises.
This has two benefits – one, it keeps your critical files on a completely separate network from the one visitors will be using and two, it allows you to control the bandwidth consumed by guests – so if they decide to fire up Netflix to kill some time before a meeting, it won’t suddenly tip your network past its breaking point.
Position your Routers or Access Points Correctly
Businesses often place their router near other related IT tech, like modems and servers. Usually, this means they are in a closet or room where walls block the signal and proximity with other equipment can introduce interference.
To optimize the strength of your Wi-Fi signal, aim to find a spot where the router can transmit clearly to the greatest number of users. This will often be from the ceiling or high up on a wall, where the signal will not be as affected by furniture, people, or other obstacles on its way to devices.
Consider Boosting Your Signal
To extend the reach of your signal and give it a bit of extra oomph to overcome obstacles in the workplace, you can invest in a signal booster. These should be strategically positioned where they can both receive a strong signal from your router, and push it into areas needing stronger coverage. Think of it as a Wi-Fi relay station!
Use a Channel with Less Traffic
This is certainly a protip, but it’s good to know. Routers transmit signals across different channels, and if one channel becomes too crowded, performance can suffer. This is because when you first set up a router, it will scan for the most open channel to use. And it will continue with this choice even if the channel becomes more crowded over time.
You can test this by checking your local channels to see if there are any with less traffic, and then manually update your router to chart a path out of traffic and onto the open road!
Update Your Hardware to Leverage New Technology
At some point, you’ll come to a point where you just can’t squeeze any more performance out of your existing Wi-Fi network hardware – and for more speed, coverage, and capacity, you’ll need to upgrade your gear.
In 2019, Wi-Fi 802.11ax – or Wi-Fi 6 -will start seeing adoption in earnest, reaching speeds of up to 9608 Mbit/s. However, these routers come with a price. Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) devices are still available, and if your office is using hardware older than that, it’s definitely time to upgrade. Just be sure that the devices you are using are capable of benefiting from the new technology – while new devices can access old Wi-Fi signals, it doesn’t always work in reverse; old devices won’t be able to harness the new higher speeds.
If your organization is looking for professional IT management and network services, Keeran Networks can help - from hardware procurement, network deployment and day-to-day support, we are a trusted MSP serving the Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver markets.