Today, WiFi can still be viewed as a nice to have, rather than a necessity. It’s nice to be able to use your laptop anywhere in the office, but your desk and meeting rooms come equipped with docking stations and cables to connect to the network. So, it’s not mission-critical, right?

However, as time goes on, we become more reliant on the ubiquity of WiFi. WiFi connects your mobile device, such as your phone or tablet. It connects your main computer, which is more likely to be a laptop than the desktop. And it connects printers and other office equipment.

You may feel like WiFi isn’t critical until the wireless network goes down, and the tickets and complaints start rolling in. When work grinds to a halt because the WiFi is down, you will quickly learn that it is a critical function after all.

5 Steps to Creating a Powerful Wireless Network

1.     Know Your Location

Conduct a site survey to determine how much square footage your network needs to support, whether there are any “dead spots” (such as around a concrete support beam), and to figure out how many wireless access points you’ll need. This should be done during regular business hours if possible, to see how routine work impacts network performance. It will also tell you if you need an additional access point to meet demand.

2.     Choose Your Equipment

The equipment you choose may be dependent on your budget or whether you have an existing support contract in place with a vendor. If you have free reign to select whatever equipment you want, it’s crucial to have a few criteria to make sure it’s going to work under today’s conditions and can grow with the company in the years to come. Make sure you’re buying wireless equipment that:

  • Can support your workload. It’s better to have an extra access point or two than not enough.
  • Works together. If you’re buying the best wireless routers from one vendor and the best switches from another, they may not play well together.
  • Is easy to support. Once the network is built, you will also have to maintain and support it. Make life easy for future you.
  • Is easy to troubleshoot. Look for gear that has plenty of support materials and troubleshooting guides that you can use if something goes wrong.
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3.     Setup Security Measures

Use the security features available on your wireless equipment, such as disabling HTTP on your switches in favor of HTTPS and setting up WPA2 encryption. We have some resources to help you, such as our post on Switch Configuration and Security and Edge Router Configuration.

4.     Maximize Performance and Reliability

The goal is to have a wireless network that will be available and reliable so that, in the event of an outage, business isn’t impacted. There are a few ways you can maximize your WiFi performance:

  • Use multiple SSIDs to segment your users and maintain security, QoS and manage bandwidth.
  • Prioritize network traffic to ensure that business functions take priority over YouTube.
  • Build in redundancy so that power outages, natural disasters and other emergencies don’t impact business functions.
  • Keep it simple to avoid difficult troubleshooting and streamline network maintenance.

5.     Looks Are Important, AKA Cables are Ugly

It may not be the biggest priority for you, but for your colleagues, having a clean, uncluttered workplace may help them do their jobs better. Streamlining the cables and power cords needed for your wireless equipment will help create a cleaner, less cluttered (and safer) office. If you have a dropped ceiling or raised floor to allow for cabling, use that to tuck away your cables neatly. When cables are safely stowed, they can’t be tripped over, accidentally unplugged or otherwise damaged.

Thinking Beyond Your Network

When in Doubt, Call the Experts

Hopefully, we’ve provided you with enough information in this post to get you started on designing a powerful and reliable WiFi. If you’re still struggling to decide on the right equipment, configuration or the best ways to maximize performance, give us a call. We’re happy to help you find the right solution.