It goes without saying that in any business, getting the best coverage in today’s digital-first world from a reliable Wi-Fi power source is imperative. With more and more small business owners now working from home, the performance and security demands of a Wi-Fi network have increased exponentially. But with this comes the added need for education on how to set up an effective Wi-Fi network that powers both your small business and your family. Beyond the actual product, there are many things to consider including coverage area, device interoperability, data security and more.
Ready to learn more about this crucial need? Here is the Wi-Fi starter kit for any small business owner or entrepreneur.
Step 1: Identify the Need
For almost all new and veteran small business owners, you will more than likely be running some part of your business from home given the current situation. Work-from-home solutions like an effective Wi-Fi network is thus one of the most fundamental tools you need in delivering services to your customers. As a result, the first thing you need to do is identify what sort of Wi-Fi network you need. Does your current Wi-Fi network meet your business needs, such as high-resolution video conferencing, fast file transfers, online group chats, Microsoft Office Suite – or even more entertainment needs like streaming from Netflix and Prime Video?
If the answer is yes; that’s a good start. For those who answered no, I recommend that you replace your Wi-Fi network throughout your home with a Wi-Fi system that is high performance, and yet capable of creating a secure subnetwork just for your business. For something like this, you should be looking for devices like an Orbi Pro, which is a Wi-Fi 6 Tri-band business-grade mesh system built to provide your small business or home office with the ultimate Wi-Fi coverage and performance, in every corner of your office or home. More about the latest standard, Wi-Fi 6, later.
Step 2: Pick a Solution Based on Your Specific Need
Starting with those who may have answered “yes” to the first question, your next move should be determining how far your workspace is from the internet gateway. If your workspace is physically near it and you just need stronger Wi-Fi in that room, my recommendation is that you get a desktop access point. Access points are designed to offer improved network performance and security at favorable price points for small, home-based businesses. The setup is also quick and painless, making it an easy choice.
Now, for those small business owners who feel that their current Wi-Fi network does not meet business needs, there are a few more overhaul steps to take. Unfortunately, if you are having issues with things like video conferencing or streaming, it’s likely that you will need a whole new system. But don’t fret, many Wi-Fi systems on the market give you a range of coverage area, and a reliable speed. Your job is to pick the one whose coverage area is appropriate for the size of your home.
Back to that hot Wi-Fi 6 topic: for speed, you cannot go wrong picking the highest speed Wi-Fi system, which currently is any Wi-Fi 6 device. Additionally, Wi-Fi 6 gives you a major boost in throughput performance, coverage area, number of connected devices, data security and future device interoperability.
As a final tip, remember that a Wi-Fi System is usually comprised of a router or the base unit, and a number of satellites. You want to place the router unit close to the internet gateway, connected by an Ethernet cable. The latest Orbi Pro model with Wi-Fi 6 can connect to internet modems over a 2.5 gbit link. This allows you to fully use internet speeds exceeding gigabit.
Always Check for Security
Every small business should be cognizant of data security and privacy – no matter the size of your operation. As such, be sure to buy an access point or a Wi-Fi system (depending on your specific need) that offers at least three separate wireless networks, aka SSIDs. You may designate one SSID for your work, and the other two for your household, one for your visiting friends, or even one for your Internet of Things, such as your surveillance cameras.
Of note, as your business starts to grow and you gain more customers and digital properties, you will need to shift to Wi-Fi devices that that support VLAN (virtual LAN) features. Using VLAN will enable you to put your work-related devices on a separate network designated for business, thus separating those devices from the rest of the home network. This is critical especially when you accumulate more sensitive customer information.
It’s no secret that starting a business is a challenging full-time job. But an effective, well-connected Wi-Fi network does not need to be a source of anxiety if you take these steps. With there no signs of the Work from Home economy slowing down, these helpful tips can get you up and running in no time, so your business is ready to face all digital demands.
Richard Jonker is the vice president SMB Product Line Management at NETGEAR.