Knowing how much Wi-Fi signal you need, and setting up your wireless network accordingly, can be a difficult and laborious process–but it doesn’t have to be.
By remembering a few key points, you can get your entire business connected without paying an installation tech or poring over troubleshooting manuals all day. We’ll walk you through the most important aspects of setting up your network, from what a router is to how many you’ll need for a strong signal in every nook and cranny of your office.
Routers work together with modems to provide your business with an Internet connection. The modem is what actually connects you to the Internet, while the router links your Internet-ready devices to one another on your local network. Join your router with the modem, and your local network is suddenly connected to the world-wide one.
Use an Ethernet cord to connect your router to any device with a fixed location, namely, desktop computers.
Hardwired connections are ideal for desktop computers because they supply a fast, guaranteed connection that taps directly into a computer that you’re not going to pick up and move around very often. On the other hand, Wi-Fi is great for any device that needs to be mobile–smartphones, tablets, laptops, and e-readers–but that mobility comes at the cost of reliability and speed.
Given a strong signal, most Wi-Fi connections will be plenty fast and secure, but wander into a dark spot and things start to fall apart.
You’ll first want to find where wireless Internet dead spots are located in your building (areas where the Wi-Fi signal is either very weak or nonexistent).
There are companies—such as Kensington and IO Gear—that sell Wi-Fi hotspot detectors, making the process of finding dead spots easy (though you could just as easily find dead spots by wandering around the building with a laptop or smart phone and watching the way the Wi-Fi signal responds to your location).
Once you’ve found where Wi-Fi dead spots are in your building, you’re ready to take action. Depending on the size of your space, you may want to consider installing individual, separate modems and routers throughout the building. This is especially true if your building requires Wi-Fi on multiple floors. On the other hand, if your business is housed in a relatively small-to-medium sized space, you can get away with boosting your wireless signal using Wi-Fi repeaters.
A Wi-Fi repeater, also known as an access point, is just another router that receives your existing wireless signal and rebroadcasts it, essentially strengthening the signal to access even the most remote parts of your office or building.
To use a repeater you’ll need to place it midway between your Wi-Fi dead spots and the current wireless router. To create the absolute strongest connection and wireless signal, you can connect the router and repeater together using an Ethernet cable.
You can use as many Wi-Fi repeaters as you need to extend the signal properly. If you find that there are more dead spots in your building you can experiment by moving the repeater around to different locations or purchase additional repeaters as necessary.
You can purchase standalone business routers and repeaters through Amazon or Newegg.com, with router prices ranging from $50 to $200 and repeater prices ranging from $25 up to $500. The price you pay for your Wi-Fi equipment will depend on the size of your office and the signal quality on your current wireless router. You can also save by buying a router and repeaters in sets.
In most cases you can also purchase a repeater from your current Internet service company or just use a regular, old router. Keep in mind that if you use an old router, it will need specific software installed to become a repeater. (For more information on how to turn a basic router into a Wi-Fi repeater, explore this LifeHacker Wi-Fi repeater article: http://lifehacker.com/5563196/turn-your-old-router-into-a-range-boosting-wi-fi-repeater.)