WiFi or Hardwire?
Is WiFi the better option for your business?
Wireless network access has often been seen as an unreliable choice for small-businesses – everyone has had the frustrating experience of being unable to connect to a network, or having overly slow connection speeds. However, these frustrations are quickly becoming a thing of the past! Advances in Wi-Fi Technology as well as the use of some easy and personalized installation strategies are quickly making Wi-Fi the preferred method of network access for many small businesses.
Using hardwired Internet access has been the standard for most businesses, as their reliability and fast connection speeds were benefits that outweighed their costs. However, now that Wi-Fi access can offer some of the same benefits as an Ethernet connection, there seems to be less of a reason to spend the time and money making sure that each piece of technology that needs to be connected to the internet has access to an Ethernet port. The logistics involved in hardwiring computers and printers to a network any time the office space is reconfigured or your company grows is a headache that does not need to be endured.
The Benefits of WiFi
Installing a Wi-Fi network connection in your small business offers many other benefits that Ethernet access cannot. Many employees now use personal devices to do components of their work, and transferring files between laptops/cell phones and work devices is only possible using Wi-Fi. As well, both files and external devices such as printers and scanners can be shared much more effectively between employees if all are linked using the same Wi-Fi connection.
Perhaps the best thing about a Wi-Fi connection is the number of ways in which it can be customized to fit each individual business’ needs. If you are considering a switch to Wi-Fi, there are a couple of factors to keep in mind to ensure its optimum performance within your business. Firstly, although it may be tempting to use a consumer-level router and access points in a business without many employees, it is worth the upgrade to a business-class router. This will provide you with far better reliability and a decrease in interference from neighboring networks. Using strategically-placed wireless access points can allow you to ensure that all areas of your workspace have strong access to the wireless signal, removing any concerns that you may have about internet signal strength. You will also have the capacity to set up separate Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) which can allow you to easily designate different networks for different purposes and levels of security.
What are the Risks?
Information security is one of the biggest concerns that small businesses have when considering the switch to a wireless network. However, by setting just a few safeguards in place you should have no new vulnerabilities. The safeguards are simple, but effective – when installing your network, ensure that you have a secure password and encryption enabled. This will prevent your network from being easily accessed by those outside of your company. If you hope to offer internet access to customers or other non-employees a separate SSID can be configured that will allow them access to the internet, but not to your company’s information!
Changing your business’ network connection from wired to wireless can seem like an unnecessary change if you have not been having any issues with your current set-up. Instead of considering a wireless internet connection as a ‘fix’ for old problems, it might be better to think of it as an upgrade – a new system that can be designed to fit your specific needs and that is in-line with the technology advances currently being made for small businesses. Talking to your IT professionals is the best way to ensure that switching to a wireless network goes smoothly, and can result in streamlined day-to-day tasks and increased efficiency in the workplace.