Best Practices for Implementing a Wireless Network in Your Office
Implementing a wireless network in your office comes with some complexities, such as defining areas of coverage and managing security.
Articles published October 26, 2017 by Steve Simpson
To have a reliable, secure, and fast wireless network, here are some best practices to follow.
Ensure you can Reach all Your Coverage Areas
The first thing you need to consider is where your wireless network will be located. For your signal to reach every part of the building, you’ll need to place access points in different areas of your office. Typically, the firewall with a built-in access point can only broadcast a wireless signal so far, and access points allow flexibility for your wireless network to be accessible from any area of the building.
To do this, you’ll need a wireless controller, which coordinates how the access points transmit the signal. The goal is to use the least amount of access points, but get the maximum amount of wireless coverage throughout your office.
Consider Using a Heat Map
A service provider can assist you in determining the location of your access points. Many service providers will provide a proof of concept, which shows a diagram of your office and recommendations for the location of your access points.
Some providers will utilize a heat map to show you coverage areas, dead zones, and suggest placement to improve your coverage. Buildings are made up of many types of materials. Each different type of material affects wireless signals differently.
When you set up your organization’s wireless network, you must ensure that it’s secure. Requiring login credentials for wireless access is a good step, but you need more than that.
It’s a good idea to leverage an enterprise firewall with services such as intrusion prevention and application control. A firewall is the foundation to protecting your network from unauthorized access and attacks. A firewall can perform additional services like blocking dangerous or unproductive websites, running in-depth reports showing which websites your employees are visiting, displaying bandwidth consumption, and other information that can impact productivity.
View more tips on securing your wireless network.
Distinguish Between Public and Private Access
It's also important to distinguish between public and private access.
With public, no login or password is needed to access your wireless network. With private, there’s either a password or credentials required. You can also create a special network for guest access. To do this, set up a separate network under a different service set identifier (SSID). This allows you to offer wireless to guests, but keeps your office wireless secure and private.
Understand Your Bandwidth Consumption
Bandwidth consumption is another factor to identify early in the process. You can have an enterprise-class firewall and wireless network, but if you don’t have enough bandwidth to support your data consumption, it can cause poor network performance and speed.
For instance: you may have one gigabyte of capacity coming in to your building and connecting to your firewall, but your firewall’s maximum bandwidth capacity is only 100 megabytes, making it so you can only use a small portion of your bandwidth.
To change this, check your organization’s regular bandwidth consumption and your current bandwidth capacity. This will tell you if it’s time to upgrade either your bandwidth or your firewall.
Sometimes you may need more access points to handle your bandwidth needs.
Knowing your bandwidth needs, or at least adapting to them, is important.
Equip Yourself for Growth
Upgrading your current equipment may seem unnecessary, but it’s helpful to look at it in terms of future growth. When your organization adds more employees, more devices, and more locations, you’re likely going to need more bandwidth and more bandwidth capacity. It’s critical to plan ahead, so you can handle that growth and adapt easily.
One way to ensure you can adapt and scale simply and quickly is to use a managed firewall service. This means a technology service provider implements and manages the firewall and allows you to efficiently scale capacity, based on your current or changing needs.
However you choose to do this, the important part is that you’ll be able to accommodate for growth and change, so you can provide excellent wireless coverage consistently.
These best practices can give you a solid start when it comes to implementing a wireless network, and point you to the end goal: a consistent wireless connection throughout your building, so you can stay connected and productive.
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