Ask an IT Guy: How to Choose the Best WiFi System for Small Businesses
When your WiFi is down, or not working at full gusto, it’s like being stuck in quicksand. And what’s worse is that your system’s issues might be partially your fault. (I know, insert shock faced emoji here).
But listen, I get it. There are seemingly MILLIONS of options when it comes to WiFi systems for your building, so how do you choose?
Jonathan Barger, CIO (Chief Information Officer) at Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., gave us some guidance on getting the right WiFi system in place, and how it can not only change your experience, but can also outperform “alternative” options.
Enterprise Grade vs. Consumer Grade - How Much Does a Good WiFi System Cost?
When you see an Internet router that is $45 and it has the same description as the $600 unit, logically, you might think that the $600 one is a rip-off. This is where the idea of what the IT world calls “Enterprise Grade Vs. Consumer Grade” comes into play.
“IT speak” can be a bit overwhelming, so let’s break it down. Grade is a fancy term for quality, enterprise is another way to say business, and consumer is defined by items “for at home use.”
“What’s most important about any system is that it be enterprise grade, not consumer grade. No matter which IT professionals you work with, they will have a brand preference, their own ‘standard set up,' etc., but the grade of your equipment is what matters most.
Enterprise products typically continue to release firmware updates, security patches, and all those incredibly important safety things – plus it’s usually a better-engineered product. You might pay a lot of up front, but it’ll last 5 or more years. Whereas a consumer grade product you buy at a technology big box store might last you a year and will need consistent attention.”
As far as price goes, as you can see above, things will VARY. Work with your IT professional to figure out what you need and create a budget that works for you.
The Best Internet Router for My Business
It might be time to try something new or update an old system. Either way, the right WiFi system can save you headaches and lost productivity hours.
"When determining what router a client needs, we look at different items. The type of Internet connection that the customer has is a major factor. Some Internet speeds are faster than others. To utilize those speeds, the router needs to be compatible to support it. "
Enterprise, or business, grade routers are better than store-bought or the "free" routers from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for more than one reason.
One major reason is that it can support more concurrent connections. Concurrent, what? Simply put, more users can access the Internet at once without affecting performance. Also, an enterprise router comes with extras! Things like website filtering, virus scanning, Internet logs, and VPNs - all which boost your layered security.
"But besides all specialized add-ins, enterprise grade support is a game changer. If the router has a hardware or software malfunction, having proper support could be the difference between a few hours and a few days of downtime. When choosing your equipment always think of warranty, coverage, and support from the vendor – those are the BIG 3."
Looking back at the cost section, that $600 initial investment could save you thousands of dollars in downtime.
How Can I Extend the Internet to Reach My Whole Office?
Wireless routers only span so far. When you need WiFi to reach through your entire office or warehouse, an access point is necessary. What’s an access point, you ask? It’s a mounted device that works to extend wireless signals.
With an access point, you can cover a larger space and provide wireless connectivity to devices that would otherwise be outside of range. Talk to your managed service provider about where the access points should be located to maximize signal strength in your office or warehouse.
Not to beat a dead horse, but if you guessed enterprise grade is your best option, you’d be right. Johnny, tell’em what they’ve won! When selecting an access point for your company, enterprise grade is of absolute importance.
Getting a Smooth and Continuous WiFi Signal
“What enterprise grade access points offer the ability for your IT team to manage them. For example, a consumer-based access point allows you to configure it, and it will run all by itself. But most offices need multiple access points to cover the whole building. If you set up two cheap access points, they are incapable of communicating with each other. As you walk around from one area to another, you will lose connection as your device flips back and forth between the access points.
A high-quality enterprise access point operates by being managed, and the access points communicate with each other. That means that if you need two or twenty access points in your building, they are all tied back to one central management. As you walk around your signal will be smooth and continuous.”
If you haven’t experienced the best in connection within your building talk to your IT service provider ASAP. What kind of system to do you have in place now, and what can you do to make it better? Once a business has experienced the seamlessness of enterprise grade WiFi capabilities, they won’t ever want to go back to dealing with disconnected or mucky coverage again.
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