Small business wireless network
Wireless network in a small business environment is no longer an option, but a necessity. With smartphones becoming a standard office tool, it is important to provide a good level of wireless signal in your office. With more and more devices going wireless, a small business will need the performance, reliability and security of a corporate network yet at an affordable price. Needless to say there are not many products out there that fit these criteria.
5 points of interest in your small business wireless network
As much as you might want to use your home router to setup an office WiFi, it will simply not be adequate. Lets say for example that you have about 10 people in your office. With ten smartphones, maybe three or four laptops, a tablet, a WiFi printer, a TV set and a security camera that’s about 16 active WiFi clients. With that many clients you can expect peak bandwidth usage over 1 Gbit, so apart from corporate level WiFi equipment you should also look into decent LAN equipment.
Access points with support for simultaneous dual band will give you an advantage here, allowing (newer) laptops to be offloaded onto the 5 GHz band, and freeing up the 2.4 GHz band for other (older) devices.
Deploying multiple access points needs to be supported, not only so you can get signal coverage in your office, but also in terms of later scalability. As you can see from our example, add just a few employees and you can expect a bigger increase in WiFi requirements due to the fact each employee can add multiple devices to your network.
3. AP placement and signal strength
The best way to understand signal strength is to visualize a straight line from AP to your device. The more barriers exist on this line – walls, cubicles, furniture, etc. the less signal you will get. For this reason you should look into ceiling mountable devices, and look to add devices as soon as you hit two or more walls.
4. Multiple SSIDs and guest control
It is common practice to provide WiFi access to your guests, and for obvious reasons this the biggest security issue in most networks. This is why you should look into APs with support for multiple SSIDs, so you can separate your work and guest environments. Decent guest network controls should also be in place, uncontrolled guest devices can quickly take up bandwidth and cause issues on your WiFi network.
5. Wireless security
Having a single password WiFi like you have at home isn’t good practice for businesses. You’d have to change the password on all the APs, and Wi-Fi devices when an employee leaves or when a device is lost or stolen. Not to mention security issues where an educated user can intercept network traffic of other users, possibly capturing secure information.
This is why you need support for a RADIUS server, and per user authentication for a business WiFi network. Check out our file server article for information on possible RADIUS servers.
Automated firmware and security updates can also be a great plus if your hardware supports it. When its hard for a business to have in house IT experts doing security updates, having automation where possible is a good compromise.