The internet has transformed into a parallel universe that coexists with and augments the physical world. WiFi is the bridge connecting the two.
Regardless of your size or industry, a robust company WiFi network plays an essential role in productivity, customer satisfaction, and Internet of Things integration. It can keep you competitive, help you analyze customer behavior and preferences, and supercharge your marketing efforts.
These core needs may be consistent across industries, but make no mistake — one size doesn’t fit all, and you need a custom company WiFi solution that supports and advances your business goals.
The Role of WiFi in Modern Companies
Your company’s WiFi network supports more than connectivity alone. In today’s world, your business WiFi solution:
- Offers employees, devices, and guests or customers the connectivity they need.
- Boosts productivity and teamwork through online collaboration and communication.
- Improves the customer experience while allowing you to collect valuable data on customer behavior to tailor your marketing efforts to individuals’ needs.
- Enhances operational efficiency through connections with POS and inventory management systems.
A robust and secure company WiFi network also serves another essential role. It guards your most sensitive data from cyber-attacks, allowing you to comply with relevant regulations in the process.
In short, it’s impossible to overstate the role WiFi plays in modern companies determined to stay competitive — making choosing the right company WiFi setup absolutely essential.
WiFi for Startups: Setting the Foundation
Ambitious startups and small businesses need WiFi solutions that seamlessly fit their budgetary constraints but are designed for scalability. Reliable and continuous coverage is a prime demand, alongside the ability to leverage your WiFi network for growth.
Startups may consider cloud-based WiFi, a convenient solution that’s centrally managed from a convenient dashboard. Cloud-based WiFi makes remote configuration and monitoring possible, making it suitable even for startups without an IT department or advanced tech skills.
WiFi as a Service plans, which are highly scalable, allow you to pay for the WiFi you need monthly without investing in costly hardware. WaaS plans are a great option for startups expecting ups and downs in network demand.
Traditional Managed WiFi is less suitable for startups, but solutions designed to cater to small and medium-sized businesses give access to secure and well-managed WiFi networks.
Minimum Viable WiFi Setup
Startups focusing on scalability and cost reduction will, at a minimum, need:
- A consumer-grade router.
- A segregated guest WiFi network (if you plan to offer guests or customers WiFi access).
- Robust basic security features like WPA2 or WPA3.
- A scalability plan that allows your WiFi network to grow alongside you.
- Regular security updates to keep the network secure.
If upfront costs prevent you from investing in WiFi infrastructure, leasing equipment or opting for a WiFi as a Service plan are excellent options.
Company-Wide WiFi Access: Ensuring Seamless Connectivity
Larger and more established companies depend on company-wide WiFi access — across different departments and even different locations — to ensure seamless connectivity.
Your WiFi network enables employee collaboration and communication, support for remote work, Internet of Things integration for your devices, excellent customer service, and reliable data collection.
With more complex networking needs, you’ll need:
- Well-designed network architecture.
- Consistent quality of service that supports intensive applications like video conferencing.
- Solid security through WPA3 encryption.
- Remote access for authorized employees at different locations and those working remotely.
- An isolated guest WiFi network for your customers.
- Solutions to minimize downtime.
Managed WiFi solutions, adaptable WiFi as a Service plans, and modern cloud-based solutions can help you realize these needs to build a robust network.
Centralized vs. Decentralized Access Points
Centralized and decentralized access points are radically different approaches to managing your company’s WiFi network. Each has a unique set of pros and cons.
With centralized access points, all your WiFi access points are managed from a central management server. Monitoring and managing the WiFi network becomes incredibly convenient this way, and all your access points will have the same configuration. This uniformity enhances security and allows easy network optimization as your demands fluctuate.
The downside is that your entire network depends on the central server. Everything fails when it does. This central server, also called a controller, represents a significant investment that may not be feasible for small businesses.
If you opt for decentralized access points, each access point works independently and autonomously. One failure won’t affect other access points, making this setup more flexible. Decentralized access points, typically better for smaller companies, are also more affordable.
However, this system doesn’t enable central control, making security and maintenance harder to manage. Scalability can become challenging with this system, which is most suitable for smaller companies without IT departments.
WiFi Network Design: Best Practices
Your WiFi network design has a direct and tangible impact across your company, affecting:
- Customer experience and satisfaction.
- Internet of Things (smart device) integration.
- Remote work capabilities.
Networks designed to be scalable can readily accommodate your future growth — something all companies should factor into their WiFi design decisions.
Well-thought-out network design, optimized for security, performance, and scalability, is crucial to your success.
Begin with a thorough assessment of your current and projected networking needs and plan your coverage, taking interference and zones without coverage into account. Consider strong security features, including WPA3 encryption, firewalls, and passwords, and invest in or secure access to quality hardware.
Never underestimate the importance of routine network maintenance and security audits, which form the backbone of your company’s WiFi network.
Mapping and Planning
Planning for optimal company WiFi coverage requires you to place your routers and access points strategically. This process involves:
- A site survey to identify key WiFi areas and interference spots.
- Access point placement planning — consider overlaps, avoid obstructions, and consider multiple access points in high-density areas.
- Creating a physical map to plan your coverage.
- Testing signal strength and reducing interference from neighboring access points.
- Continued monitoring to enable periodic adjustments.
Employee WiFi: Considerations and Policies
Many modern businesses understand how important offering guest WiFi is for customer satisfaction and retention. However, it’s crucial to remember that your employees and customers or visitors use your company WiFi network very differently.
- Customers use your network to access the internet and connect with your services.
- Employees can access confidential information, including sensitive data crucial to daily operations.
This explains why it’s crucial to have separate networks for employees and guests to protect your customers’ privacy and sensitive data.
However, a more tightly controlled guest network doesn’t mean there is no need to monitor and restrict employee WiFi access. Most companies benefit from implementing acceptable use policies, monitoring their employees’ WiFi use, and setting appropriate content limits. If you have remote workers, they should have a secure way to access the company network from outside the premises.
Beyond network segregation, employee WiFi networks can be protected with:
- Multi-factor authentication, including physical hardware tokens.
- Firewalls to limit traffic and prevent unauthorized access to your company’s WiFi network.
- Strong encryption protocols.
- Regular security updates and patches combined with continuous network monitoring.
- Strong incident response plans.
Think of cybersecurity as a verb, not a noun. It’s never a “once and done,” but a continuous effort to keep your WiFi network secure and protected from threats. Your company WiFi vendor can, however, play a key role in this effort — making fast, reliable, and secure WiFi a reality even for companies without a specialized IT department or in-depth technical knowledge.
Your company WiFi network is the ultimate multi-tasker.
It gives your employees, devices, and customers or clients access to the connectivity they need to be productive and satisfied. It serves as a powerful data collection and marketing tool. It plays a key role in everything you do.
If you haven’t given your company WiFi network the priority it deserves in the 21st century, the infrastructure and service changes you implement have the potential to revolutionize your company — regardless of your size or the field in which you operate.
Because no single solution fits every company’s needs, investing in the WiFi capabilities that can help you grow is absolutely crucial.
Startups benefit from inexpensive, flexible WiFi networks that can adapt to the rapid changes they’ll enjoy through supreme scalability. Larger companies require robust and secure WiFi networks that reliably provide the coverage and service to support their daily operations and customer needs. Offices have additional security needs and coverage challenges.
However, all modern businesses depend on solid security, regular updates, and scalable WiFi solutions seamlessly integrating with your smart devices.
The right company WiFi solution can meet and adapt to all your networking needs, helping you build the future you envision for your business. That future requires substantial planning, but it can start today.