Wired connections are generally more reliable and consistent than Wi-Fi, but wireless internet is still crucial for most businesses. In part 3 we’ll explore how Wi-Fi helps your business, what equipment you need, and how you can make it as secure and effective as possible.
How Wi-Fi helps your business
- Wi-Fi can improve productivity
It’s a fact: people no longer work only at their desks. They work from conference rooms, from break rooms, and from hallways on the way to their next meeting. Reliable Wi-Fi service makes this possible.
Even if your business is a one-person show, you’ll probably need Wi-Fi to stay productive when you’re not at your desk—sometimes, you just want to work from the couch.
- Wi-Fi status can attract customers and keep them coming back
Today, customers expect free Wi-Fi as part of the experience at cafes, auto shops, and other businesses where they plan on staying awhile.
Wi-Fi creates the potential for customers to (1) enjoy themselves more at your location; (2) stay longer each time they visit; and (3) come back more frequently.
If you don’t offer Wi-Fi to customers, they may choose to visit other shops that do. We’ll get into how you can offer Wi-Fi to customers below.
- Wi-Fi can be key for business partners
Wi-Fi can help your business partners feel comfortable and productive in your space, since they’ll be working almost exclusively on portable devices like laptops and phones.
Equipment you need for business Wi-Fi
Just like at home, your business needs a router, modem, or router-modem combination to generate a wireless signal. Here are the different types of equipment you need based on your internet type:
- DSL and fiber connections require a router. With DSL and fiber, routers receive the signal from your wired connection and emit a signal that devices nearby can detect and connect to without being wired in.
- Cable and satellite require a modem and a router. Cable and satellite internet is delivered over a coaxial cable, but most routers aren’t compatible with coax outlets and need an adapter—in this case, a modem—to connect to the internet source. Modems and routers can be bought separately or as a single-device combination.
What you need to know about provider routers
It’s standard practice for providers to offer their own wireless equipment. Provider equipment is usually a solid option because the providers know the network and can fine-tune the router to make the settings and updates as compatible and efficient as possible. If you get your wireless device from your provider, they’ll usually offer it in one of these three ways:
- Included in the price. You may be able to get a router for no extra cost for the whole length of your term. With this arrangement, though, you usually have to return the router upon ending service.
- Available to rent. Router rental fees are different for each provider, but they usually run about $10 per month for the length of your term.
- Available to buy. Buying a router is more expensive up front but can save you money in the long run.
Can I bring my own router?
Many providers will let you bring your own router, which gives you more flexibility to change providers and to keep getting returns on the investment you made when you bought it.
How to keep business Wi-Fi secure
Cover the basics first
There are simple steps you can take that are fundamental to keeping your business Wi-Fi secure:
- Choose the WPA-2 security setting when you set up your wireless network for the first time.
- Password-protect your network so only employees or paying customers can use it. (Usually you’re automatically asked for a password when you choose the WPA-2 security setting.)
- Change the password to the router itself—often, the default password is easily guessable or it’s been catalogued somewhere deep on the internet.
Create a separate guest Wi-Fi network
Most routers have the ability to create multiple networks, called SSIDs. Because these SSIDs each have separate traffic, the devices on one network cannot “see” the devices on the other, and each user’s data stays more secure—and your business data does, too, since employees have access to company resources from their devices.
Be aware that creating multiple SSIDs requires an internet plan with fairly robust speeds. SSIDs are tied to the same piece of hardware, and that hardware can channel only so much speed.
How to make business Wi-Fi as effective as possible
Get the right router
Routers can have one of two broadcast frequencies: 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Routers that broadcast at 2.4 GHz can broadcast farther and go through walls and other obstacles. Routers broadcasting at 5 GHz emit a shorter, faster wavelength that’s easily blocked by physical objects.
Set up the router strategically
If you have a small office or storefront and only a few people using the Wi-Fi at a time, a 5 GHz router will do just fine. If you have lots of square footage, multiple floors, or a strange layout, you may want a 2.4 GHz router.
Consider managed Wi-Fi
If you don’t want to go the DIY route, many providers offer managed Wi-Fi service for an add-on fee. Managed Wi-Fi service often includes creating multiple access points throughout a building to extend the router’s signal, as well as configuring the router and access points to broadcast the signal to a limited area.
Summary: What to remember about Wi-Fi when you’re looking for business internet
- Wi-Fi can improve productivity, attract customers, and help business partners.
- Wi-Fi routers, modems, or modem-router combinations are available from most internet providers. Your cost depends on whether you want to pay more up front or more over time.
- You can keep Wi-Fi secure by password-protecting your network and creating multiple SSIDs for different user groups (employees vs. customers).
- To make your Wi-Fi signal as consistent as possible, position the router strategically or ask your provider to do it for an additional fee.