By: Adam Baer
Wireless technologies are more reliable, secure and dependable than ever before, making it easier to work from anywhere on any device. With your mobile users itching to, ditch their desktops for Surface Pros, laptops and tablets, a wireless refresh is at the top of your business’s technology roadmap.
The first thing you need to decide is how you want to use your new wireless network. For example, do you want to use it for employees only, how many users will you need to accommodate, where do you need coverage and will you provide access to guest users? While offering guest wireless is a great amenity, it does bring up security concerns. To ensure your wireless refresh accommodates all of your connectivity needs while keeping your business systems separate from your guest users you need a plan.
Here are five best practices to consider when deploying a wireless network for your small business.
- Perform a site survey – Performing a site survey will help you “see” the radio interference in your building. Once you understand what frequencies are in use, you can design a solution around it. There are free basic tools available for download on Android and iOS or more advanced tools such as AirMagnet, for more extensive deployments. No matter the size of the deployment, it’s important to conduct the survey with the devices you will use. For example, don’t’ survey with a laptop if your primary devices will be a mobile phone. Get floor plans for your space and layout the AP’s. Make sure to watch for tinted glass walls, metal, lead-lined walls or anything that could impact wireless signals. Also, be sure to take into consideration that Access Points (AP’s) generally cover between 2,500-5,000 sq ft in a 360° circle.
- Understand your coverage requirements – When thinking about where you require coverage, think about any places you will have a concentrated number of users. Dense users in one area can overload a single Wireless AP. You will want to select the proper AP model in areas with larger device counts such as a customer demonstration room or employee training area.
- Address the network – Creating a separate Virtual LAN (VLAN) on your existing network is the 1st step to maintaining security for your guest users. If your network switch is not a managed switch, meaning it doesn’t support VLANs or it doesn’t have enough Power over Ethernet, (POE) available it may be time for an upgrade. You can always add a second switch for your wireless network if needed.
- Determine the level of security – There are many types of wireless security available. Some are easier to hack and lack the basic security requires of today’s threats. Others, such as WPA and WPA2 are more formidable against today’s attacks.
- Air Time Fairness – Wireless is a shared medium. Therefore, a device trying to connect at 6 Mbps can create a slower experience for the rest of the network. However, with features such as Air Time Fairness, you don’t have to worry about the negative impact on your network. If Air Time Fairness is not an option, you can turn off support for devices that are trying to connect at slower data rates. Keep in mind older wireless clients or clients that are too far out of range can be the silent assassin of the network.
With a little Pre-Planning your users and guest can experience a seamless, reliable, business grade wireless solution that will enable increased productivity by putting data at their fingertips.