In today’s workplace, a solid wireless infrastructure is almost a requirement for any business. With increasingly more mobile devices, applications, and employees, having a good wireless network to deliver services is extremely important to maintain functionality, minimize frustration, and provide your company with a competitive edge over your competition.
Business Wi-Fi solutions can provide your company with the access necessary to streamline operations and increase productivity.
Ontech partnered with Ubiquiti to offer clients another way to resolve ongoing wireless access issues. Our technicians offer expert wireless knowledge with 5 years of experience as certified Ubiquiti Enterprise Wireless Architects.
To put it simply, Ubiquiti is a saucer shaped piece of hardware that is mounted to the wall and projects a wireless signal. In other words, it is a wireless access point.
The Struggle with Ongoing Wi-Fi Issues
Quite often, corporate Wi-Fi issues are a headache for internal IT. This is especially true in larger organizations with multiple buildings or in manufacturers with welding machines that put up interference.
Organizations in many industries suffer from weak or inconsistent Wi-Fi; distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, and education to name a few. Whenever possible it is ideal to use a hard line connection over wireless.
A strong enterprise Wi-Fi network often comes down to the placement of wireless access points. To strengthen the signal, access points are placed in areas where a signal is required.
Quite often when Ontech evaluates commercial Wi-Fi issues, one of the most common scenarios we encounter is cabling that is 15-20 years old which begs the question: do we spend $20-30,000 rewiring the facility, or do we invest in wireless?
Centralized Management is a Must
When wireless networks came out over 20 years ago, the devices (called wireless access points) were standalone devices – each one was configured independently.
This is still used in many consumer grade access points or smaller deployments which works fine for single device situations. However, any business with more than one access point should be using modern enterprise Wi-Fi solutions with centralized management.
Not only does it reduce effort (and therefore cost) in the installation and maintenance of the devices, it facilitates advanced wireless functionality to make a company’s network more resilient, more functional, and less prone to coverage gaps and problems.
The first step begins with evaluating your wireless network to determine what enhancements you need. Once you’ve made the decision to improve your wireless footprint and evaluate managed Wi-Fi solutions, here are some things to consider in order to make the most of your investment. A site survey and heat map assessment are a great place to start.
Wireless Heat Map Assessment
During a heat map assessment, you can click your mouse to load a floor plan into the software and it will show you any obstacles that might be deterring your wireless signal along with how far the signal travels.
You might find that you need less access points or you may need them in other places.
From here, Ontech takes a look at the big picture:
- How is wireless access used in your business?
- How many people access it during the busiest times?
- Are users going to be moving and require a consistent connection?
- Is there anything that needs to be filtered if you have public spaces?
- What does your wireless network need to provide right away?
- Are you providing network and Internet access to laptops, mobile phones, tablets?
- Are you going to be using wireless voice over IP phones?
- Are there specialized applications or devices that need to be supported?
- Do you need to provide wireless connectivity to other buildings that are otherwise disconnected?
- Do you need to provide guest access for visitors?
With these questions in mind, we put together a thorough and accurate estimate to address your business Wi-Fi issues.
Business Wi-Fi Solutions
Let’s look at your options
There are a variety of business Wi-Fi solutions available. Consider what you need today, as well as what you may need in the future. Think about these things in the planning stages, because they will affect your design.
Also think about what you may need in 5 years – make sure the solution you design supports this right away, or can be easily extended to support it in the future.
Unless you have specific requirements around your systems that only come with the more expensive solutions, you don’t need to get top of the line equipment in order to get good, functional wireless connectivity. You do, however, need to go with a solid, proven solution that can provide the functionality you want and need.
In the event that new cabling is needed, Ontech does offer vendor management. Your account manager can gather quotes on re-cabling or going wireless based on your budget and the level of performance required. After all, not every piece of technology is recommended to work over wireless.
Wireless activity reports
With some wireless solution models, detailed information can be provided to track activity at a certain time. This includes some nice reporting to help you better manage your wireless performance and security.
Based on the wireless options you choose, some wireless solutions can provide even greater visibility into the types of traffic, the users, and even prevent access to websites such as gambling, porn, social media, etc.
Wireless Security and Policy Considerations
There are many ways to implement strong network security with a wireless network. Passwords (sometimes called pre-shared keys) are the most common method, but you can also use usernames and passwords tied to the users’ computer accounts, security certificates stored on their computers, or other methods.
Each one has their advantages and disadvantages and should be discussed with your consultant prior to implementation.
You should also consider your wireless network policies at this time – what devices should connect, which people need to connect, are people allowed to bring personal devices, and if so, what networks can they connect to.
Wireless has a security feature to prevent visitors’ cell phones from hitting your network.
This is especially important in the medical, financial, or legal fields where security is paramount.
Without a special guest network defined, a guest could visit your organization with malware on their device that could infiltrate your network.
If the proper wireless restrictions are not in place, a visitor could access sensitive data like human resource files or client/patient details.
Being aware of your need to comply with regulatory and legal requirements such as PCI, CJIS, FINRA, HIPAA, etc., is very important when having these design and policy discussions with your IT team.
These are just a few of the things that go into the planning, design, implementation, and support of a corporate wireless infrastructure.
It may seem daunting at first, but by working with a knowledgeable IT partner, you can cut down on the confusion and create a wireless network that will support all your current and future needs.
A good wireless network consultant (like Ontech) can look at your needs and provide you with solid options that won’t break your budget. This also extends to your network switches and wiring!
The best wireless equipment in the world won’t function well if the network and/or power wiring it’s plugged into isn’t up to the task. Look at your network as a whole entity, we’ll show you how.