If your company is like a lot of others, optimized Wi-Fi isn’t a luxury, it’s a must. I got with the team here and hammered out the three most important factors businesses need to consider when setting up a Wi-Fi network to have a real business impact. Interference Interference can come in a lot of forms, and it’s typically the biggest issue with business Wi-Fi. Interference can be physical barriers blocking the signal from access points to devices or any devices/objects that interrupt the communication as it travels from point to point. Now, you might be thinking you know how to solve this: more access points will negate the influence of physical barriers and maybe reduce the load on each access point. Well that’s not exactly true. And by “not exactly,” I mean it’s the opposite of what you should do. The best way to reduce interference is to reduce the overlap of your access points. The more access points you have, the more each one interferes with the others. Plus, manually managing all those access points is a pain for your IT staff/person. The key here is “fewer, but more effective.” Your equipment should be able to dynamically change channel and power to specifically avoid interference. In layman’s terms, each access point should be smart enough to pass off a device to the next logical channel as the device moves. Capacity A lot of people in a little space – that puts a big strain on wireless networks. That’s why it’s hard to get a signal sometimes at a sporting event, or when you do get a signal, your phone is working extra hard and your battery is drained by the 4th inning of a baseball game and you can’t post those selfies of you and the mascot on Facebook until you get home (#bummer). Seriously though, while your business likely doesn’t need to accommodate 50,000 smartphones at once, it does need to work with mobile devices that help your company operate at maximum efficiency. There’s no real “trick to the trade” here; technology is your best ally. Adaptive antenna technology, specifically, addresses the issue of capacity. What does that mean? According to our resident Wi-Fi expert (thank you, Mark Giles), the antenna system forms a relationship with the connecting device that optimizes the signal by maneuvering its beam in the direction of the targeted device. This ensures each device is getting one-on-one treatment from the network. Ease of Use This one isn’t hard to understand: Your wireless network shouldn’t require a massive staff to operate. In fact, wireless technology has advanced to the point that you shouldn’t need more than a couple of people to keep things up and running. A good network can be controlled through the cloud or onsite from a centralized platform. From there, the IT staff or manager should be able configure the system to run at optimal efficiency. If you’re an SMB with a limited IT staff, you really need to take ease-of-use into account.
The tech talk can be complicated, but the concepts behind effective Wi-Fi networking are really pretty simple. As always, do your research, ask the right questions and never stop looking for that competitive edge.