Small businesses depend on WiFi like people depend on air. We don't always notice it, but when there's a problem, it can be alarming. If the WiFi powering your small business isn't up to par, you may be suffocating your business without realizing it.
It's easy to take slow WiFi or frequent outages as a fact of life, but they don't have to be. If your WiFi isn't rapid and reliable at all times, it may be time for a WiFi overhaul. Even if you think the signal strength is fine, you may be missing out on some exciting features that modern WiFi solutions offer.
Not sure if it's time to update your WiFi? If one of these signs applies to you, it might be.
1. Your WiFi Signal Is Weak
The most obvious reason to upgrade your WiFi is, of course, if your WiFi service is poor. In some cases, that may mean that the signal is weak and doesn't reach far enough to serve everyone.
There's no need to put up with WiFi that doesn't reach every corner of your office. If users are complaining about slow loading times or poor connectivity at their desks, it may be time for an upgrade.
One of the most effective ways to enhance a weak signal is to add more hardware. You can use range extenders to send your signal further, though range extenders tend to weaken WiFi bandwidth. Another option is to add access points to your network setup.
Mesh WiFi is a third option. This is a type of WiFi network that uses nodes to spread an equal amount of WiFi coverage throughout a large space. There are also solutions available that use AI to enhance your WiFi's speed and strength. For example, Plume WorkPass works with your ISP but provides an AI-enhanced connection that learns and adapts to your WiFi users' behavior and needs.
2. Your WiFi Is Slow
In addition to a weak signal, some WiFi plans just don't provide enough data for your business to function. This issue does primarily lie with your service provider, and if you're consistently experiencing slow WiFi, it may be a good idea to look into changing plans.
There are a few potential fixes you can try before switching providers, though. Make sure routers are in central locations and that they're not blocked by walls or heavy furniture. Also check to see if nearby networks are potentially interfering with yours.
If you only notice slow speeds during particularly active times, it may be a matter of there being too many people on your network. Rather than trying to limit what people can do on the network, though, you could look into smart WiFi solutions that can strengthen WiFi during particularly active times.
3. Your WiFi Is Insecure
Security is a major concern for any type of business, and one of the biggest security vulnerabilities found in small businesses is insecure WiFi.
If a WiFi signal isn't secured, bad actors can join it and monitor all the traffic that's communicated across it. Essentially, your sensitive data can be eavesdropped on.
The easiest way to defend against this is with strong password requirements, but particularly skilled hackers can circumvent or steal passwords. All small businesses should have additional access controls to make it harder to access their WiFi networks, such as two-factor authentication and guest networks for visitors. In addition to that, it's best to have network monitoring in place.
Network monitoring is a type of software that watches all activity on a network and creates an alert whenever unusual activity is detected. In addition to being helpful for preventing outages, it's one of the best tools available for network security. It can be added to your WiFi by purchasing specific hardware and WiFi services.
4. You WiFi Isn't Smart
AI-powered WiFi isn't yet a common technology, but it's the way of the future and very beneficial to the small business that adopts it. Essentially, smart WiFi uses AI to monitor typical usage and adjusts accordingly.
For example, say your users have video meetings that require high amounts of bandwidth every day in the late afternoon. By contrast, WiFi use cuts in half around noon every day because users leave to go to lunch. A Smart WiFi solution would collect data on these usage patterns, and then strengthen the WiFi in the late afternoon, but not at noon.
Smart WiFi is currently available from just a handful of forward-looking companies, but finding the right one for your company may just be the key to giving your WiFi the boost it needs.
5. You Have No Insight Into How Your WiFi Is Used
From knowing what applications are using the most bandwidth to understanding how your users do their work, WiFi analytics is a powerful tool. It's also a tool very few small businesses have.
Most network analytics tools have a reputation for being too expensive for small businesses, but that isn't necessarily the case. There are some newer solutions available designed specifically for the small business.
WiFi analytics can provide a wealth of helpful information. You can see which apps are being used most often on your network, helping you better understand which apps take up the most bandwidth and adjust user behavior accordingly. You can also track which apps users spend the most time on, providing managers with insights into their average workday. And you can see where in your office WiFi is most often used, which can be invaluable information if you're reconfiguring your network's hardware.
This may sound futuristic, but if you're not getting any insights out of your WiFi, upgrading your WiFi setup may be a good idea. There's no reason not to join the future now.
Overhauling your WiFi may sound like a big task, but it's usually just a matter of installing a few new pieces of hardware and upgrading the software that manages your network. The rewards - from faster internet to better analytics - are more than worth it. If your business could benefit from more reliable WiFi or better network monitoring, it may be time to revolutionize your WiFi setup.