A reliable and secure WiFi network has become the lifeblood of the modern business. Your WiFi network isn’t just a gateway to the internet. It’s your path to better productivity, customer engagement, and marketing strategies.
Before you can get there, you have to start at the beginning — with installation.
This comprehensive overview guides you through the right way to install your business WiFi network, whether you’re running a small startup or a sprawling multi-location company.
The Importance of Proper WiFi Installation
A fast, secure, and reliable business WiFi network quickly becomes one of your most valued assets, but poor installation can quickly derail your dreams for the future.
Network bottlenecks that lead to slow traffic can disrupt your critical operations, slow your smart devices down, and frustrate your employees and customers. Poor network configuration opens the door to malicious actors who can hack your network and breach your sensitive data. Improper network design inevitably leads to slow loading times and haphazard performance.
Combined, the consequences of improper WiFi installation can devastate your business. From expensive hardware upgrades and missed opportunities to costly reputation losses, the chaos poor setup leaves in its wake threatens to undo all your hard work.
That’s why getting it right the first time is essential.
DIY WiFi Installation: Is It Right for Your Business?
Small business owners who enjoy a challenge and love cutting costs may consider installing their own business WiFi setup. This approach has pros and cons. It may be the right choice for your business — but you better know what you’re getting yourself into.
Installing your own WiFi allows you to avoid installation fees and gives you the flexibility to tailor your network to your needs. DIY installation can simplify the process if you’re running a micro-business or have a specialized IT department.
On the downside, DIY installation is a recipe for bottlenecks, security threats, and frustration if you don’t know what you’re doing. An improperly installed network quickly has to be fixed, creating extra costs you may have avoided by opting for expert installation.
Tools and Skills Needed for DIY
You or your employees should be armed with a robust skill set to make DIY business WiFi installation a viable option. Go ahead if:
- You have a good grasp of computer networks and WiFi, including subnetting, IP addressing, and router configurations.
- You know how to identify and resolve network problems.
- You understand WiFi security and encryption protocols.
You’ll need quality hardware tailored to your business needs, including routers, access points, switches, and cables. Security measures like firewalls, encryption, and access control are other must-haves.
Businesses opting for DIY WiFi installation should always research their needs and design their networks before setting their networks up, ensuring your business WiFi can meet all your daily needs.
Professional WiFi Setup: When to Call the Experts
DIY installation may lead to savings, but it also comes with risks. Don’t be afraid to call in the experts when the stakes are too high!
Opting for expert installation is your best bet if you’re running a larger or multi-location business with complex networking needs. It also becomes the obvious choice for businesses handling sensitive data and those subject to security and privacy regulations, like those in the healthcare, legal, or financial sectors.
Regardless of your industry and size, professional installation ensures your network functions smoothly from the get-go, avoiding costly downtime and disruptions.
Professional business WiFi installation is a thoroughly-planned process that covers everything you need to get your fast, secure, and reliable network up and running. It includes:
- An in-depth assessment of your company’s networking needs, ranging from performance to size and location.
- Smart network design that addresses bottlenecks and coverage.
- Physical hardware installation and configuration that addresses your performance and security needs.
- Testing and optimization.
- Ongoing troubleshooting and support.
That’s right — professional business WiFi installation turns a complex process into a hassle-free “plug and play” solution that works without your active input. If you’re not sure you can handle a DIY installation process, erring on the side of caution by letting the experts handle your installation needs is an obvious solution. Think “pay now, save later.”
Choosing professional WiFi installation represents an additional cost — but it’s prudent to remember that you get what you pay for. For businesses with more complex networking needs, expert installation is a smart investment that leads to substantial long-term savings.
You don’t just avoid the consequences and cost of improper installation, but gain a secure and reliable business WiFi network that meets your challenging demands from the outset.
WiFi Hardware: Picking the Right Components
Your WiFi infrastructure — or your hardware — forms the backbone of your business WiFi network, and you’ll need routers, access points, and switches to make the internet come to life for you.
- Routers are your ultimate “internet boxes.” They connect two or more networks to manage traffic and make it possible for numerous devices to use the same internet connection. These are essential components that determine the optimal path for data packet transmission between different subnets or networks. They operate mainly at the network layer (Layer 3) of the OSI model. By using routing tables and protocols, routers determine the most efficient route for data packets, enabling multiple devices within a local network to share a single ISP-provided IP address through NAT (Network Address Translation).
- Access points are devices that provide wireless connections to wired networks, expanding your coverage and ensuring your network’s safety. They function at the data link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI model. They act as an interface between wireless devices and wired LANs, enabling the wireless devices to connect to the LAN. Modern APs often support multiple wireless standards such as IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax and come with security features like WPA3 encryption, MAC address filtering, and multiple SSID broadcasting for guest and private network separation.
- Switches connect diverse devices, such as printers and POS terminals, improving performance and directing data traffic. These operate at the data link layer (Layer 2) of the OSI model and are responsible for forwarding frames based on MAC addresses. They use MAC address tables to keep track of which devices (by their MAC addresses) are connected to which ports. Unlike basic hubs, switches are intelligent devices that can reduce network collisions by sending data only to the port where the destination device is connected. Managed switches can also offer VLAN capabilities, Quality of Service (QoS) settings, and SNMP monitoring.
Selecting the right hardware components that align with your security and traffic needs is a crucial step in building a robust business WiFi network. That starts with considering your number of users (employees, guests, and devices), physical coverage area, security needs, and future growth plans.
Your hardware should be scalable to account for expanded networking demands and ready to take on the future. Businesses in sensitive industries and those with more complex networking needs may require firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and advanced encryption.
Installation Best Practices: The Do’s and Don’ts
Using an expertly installed business WiFi network may be effortless, but installing one is complex. Whether you decide to turn your business WiFi installation into a DIY network or engage professionals to set your network up, it’s crucial to follow best practices. A properly installed network runs smoothly, after all!
Let’s take a deeper look at the required steps.
Network design starts with considering the current number of users and devices, and planning for your routers, access points, and switches to be placed strategically to optimize coverage while reducing interference.
The planning stage should look beyond your current networking demands, however. Network configurations that can grow with your business by expanding to accommodate more employees, devices, and guests lead to long-term savings.
When installing access points with optimal coverage in mind, it’s crucial to consider density and potential sources of interference. These include walls and shelving. Consider installing access points directly over workstations, but take steps to secure ventilation.
The security of your sensitive data, devices, employees, and customers is paramount. To follow best practices in business WiFi installation, consider:
- Implementing firewall systems to filter traffic and block unauthorized access. Firewalls act as barriers between your network and potential threats from the internet. They scrutinize incoming and outgoing traffic based on a set of predetermined rules, ensuring only legitimate traffic gets through. By setting up robust firewall configurations, businesses can protect their internal networks from malicious intruders and malware.
- Using strong encryption protocols such as WPA3. WPA3 is the latest and most secure encryption protocol for wireless networks. It offers stronger protections against brute-force attacks and improved security for public WiFi networks. By employing WPA3, businesses can ensure that the data transmitted between devices and the network remains confidential and tamper-proof.
- Using strong passwords and changing default router passwords and usernames. Default usernames and passwords are often well-known and can be easily exploited by attackers. By changing these defaults and using complex passwords (a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters), businesses can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Regularly updating these credentials further minimizes potential security breaches.
- Keeping up with regular firmware updates to ensure ongoing security. Firmware updates often contain patches for known security vulnerabilities. By regularly updating the firmware on routers, access points, and other network devices, businesses can protect themselves from exploits and vulnerabilities that have been discovered since the device’s last update. This proactive approach helps in maintaining a secure and stable network environment.
Testing and Optimization
Once the initial installation is complete, it’s important to conduct signal strength tests to ensure even coverage with slight overlap in access points. Putting your new business WiFi setup to the test in a daily setting allows your employees to identify weak points and congestion, allowing for adjustments to be made to optimize your WiFi network.
Even after installation is complete, remember to conduct regular security audits and penetration testing to proactively identify vulnerabilities. This “better safe than sorry” approach to network security and performance ensures you can address any issues promptly.
Following installation, ensure your business WiFi network remains secure and reliable by installing hardware and software firmware updates and patches as soon as they come out. Businesses without IT departments can rely on third-party vendors to keep their WiFi networks running smoothly.
Whether you opt for a DIY installation process or a professionally installed business WiFi setup, having your new business WiFi network installed is the start of a beautiful working relationship between you and the rest of the world. By following best practices, you ensure your WiFi is fast, secure, reliable, and always on — so you can focus on growing your business.