Businesses rely on the internet and the many wireless networking capabilities it offers more than ever before.
With good reason, too. Not only does better wireless networking improve experiences between businesses and customers, but it can also increase capabilities within the office by streamlining communication, offering productivity-boosting tools and allowing for better communication among coworkers and colleagues.
The data behind why businesses are looking to better integrate the internet and wireless networks into their day-to-day operations is impressive, too. Take retail ecommerce, for example. In 2018, ecommerce sales totaled $2.8 trillion. By 2021, that total is estimated to be $4.9 trillion.
But sales are not the only part of business that can benefit from better connectivity. Any business can rely on the internet and wireless networking to market products, generate leads and develop tools and strategies to deliver products and services to customers. Wireless networking helps businesses accomplish all these goals in a faster, more effective way.
A secure, reliable internet connection is a necessity in today’s business environment. The internet is able to connect any business with any potential customer or market anywhere in the world. Local, small businesses face fewer limits on who they can reach and sell to thanks to the internet.
From a business to consumer perspective, a better internet connection can mean better customer service. First, businesses can utilize tools like websites, social media and digital advertising to better reach customers. Second, small businesses can improve their marketing with targeting and automation offered by many web-based services.
There are numerous other benefits to having a good internet connection, too. Those include freeing up teamwork, improving employee productivity and freeing up employees to deal with other, more vital tasks that may take them longer to accomplish if they do not have internet access.
When considering setting up a wireless network for your small business, or improving the setup of your business’s current network, security must always be the top priority.
Wireless networks require security measures because, without them, they allow access to any device that is in range. Unwanted access to a network can be prevented with a security protocol. Networks use WiFi Protected Access, or WPA, which creates alphanumeric keys that can be entered into each device on the network, providing access.
Business owners should speak with IT professionals about security needs before setting up and activating their wireless networks.
Wireless network ranges are often limited due to the technology used to send out and receive connection signals. Businesses housed inside buildings made of denser materials or buildings that cover a lot of square footage will find this to be even more true.
However, reception can be improved with the use of helpful equipment, including routers and signal repeaters, that can boost signals and improve connectivity. Make sure to research the signal strength of all wireless networking equipment, and install signal-boosting equipment if necessary, so that no part of the building ends up in a WiFi deadzone.
When researching networking equipment, don’t skimp on quality. Better-quality equipment can not only improve wireless network connectivity and WiFi signal strength. An investment in quality also will pay off in the long run, potentially saving money on equipment updates and maintenance.
Although there are several key pieces of hardware your small business may need to invest in when establishing a wireless network, the two basic pieces of networking hardware are switches and routers. Most small business wireless networks are made up of this equipment.
In short, a switch allows devices on the same network to communicate and send information back and forth to each other. This could include desktop PCs, printers, servers, voice over IP (VoIP), surveillance systems, etc. - basically any equipment that has an ethernet port.
Routers connect different networks, normally through an internet connection. A router takes information from the internet that is flowing between devices connected to the network and prioritizes it, ideally creating a steady connection. Routers can also protect devices from security risks. Many routers have switches integrated into their internal hardware.
Not sure how much networking hardware you will need to invest in? First, take into consideration how much space you need a network signal to cover. For larger spaces, you will need additional access points, or equipment that can expand your wireless network.
Businesses that cover about 1,500 square feet will likely need at least one additional access point. To determine whether more access points are needed, move a wireless router throughout the building to determine how far a reliable connection can reach within the building. Simply grab a laptop, smartphone or tablet to test signal strength from each spot the router has been placed and keep track of where the signal drops off.
As a business plans how to set up its wireless network, the future must be considered. Plan three to five years ahead when it may be necessary to scale up networking needs. Your network’s scalability can be determined by how many ethernet ports your network’s switch or switches have. As long as the number of ethernet ports outnumbers endpoints on a small business network, you are good to go.
When purchasing a switch, plan ahead. As with other networking equipment, don’t skimp on quality. A switch that can transfer data packets faster can increase overall network performance, but they will come with a higher price tag. A switch with more ethernet ports also will increase the equipment price. However, both these factors could pay off in the long run because your business’s networking needs have plenty of room to expand without requiring major equipment upgrades.
Without a secure and reliable wireless network setup, your small business won’t be able to take advantage of all that the internet has to offer. This is where a knowledgeable service provider comes into play.
Advanced Network Professionals can work with your business of any size to setup up your wireless network. Our technicians will design, implement, monitor and troubleshoot your network as you focus on what matters most - your business. With ANP’s managed wireless networking, you can also rest assured that your network security won’t be compromised and that every access point will be monitored 24/7.
Ready to setup or improve your small business’s wireless network? Contact ANP, provide us with more information about your needs and we’ll deliver an estimate.