Between the adoption of Wi-Fi 6 and adjusting to the post-pandemic workplace, it may be time to update your business’ Wi-Fi network. Wi-fi networks should typically be updated every five years to keep up with advancements in technology, your business’ changing needs, and of course, the aging hardware. Wi-Fi 6 was released late 2019/early 2020—putting it in the middle of pandemic-related uncertainty—and Wi-Fi 6E was released in early 2022. The world has changed drastically over the past several years, and it’s likely your business’ needs have as well. As your business looks at upgrading to Wi-Fi 6, there are several things it should consider.
Planning, Planning, Planning
As your business considers upgrading to Wi-Fi 6, there are several questions it should ask. What does your business hope to get out of a new network? This can be anything from better coverage and faster speeds to better security. Think about your business’ future needs. Is there room to grow? How are your digital needs changing?
Once you have an idea of what you need, consider your current network. Survey your existing wireless coverage and performance. Then, use a predictive survey to show what your new Wi-Fi 6 network will look like. This is a good time to make sure that it meets your business’ needs and that nothing needs to be changed. Changes should be made, if possible, in the planning stage while problems are easiest to fix.
Using a Wired Network
Failing to consider your wired network in relation to your wireless network can lead to your business’ needs not being met. While the wireless network is a necessary part of today’s businesses, the wired network is just as indispensable. Certain employees may use significantly more data than others, such as those who work with video or other applications that consume large volumes of data. Even with increased speed, Wi-Fi 6 may not be enough. Those employees may find a wired systems more useful, and having them on a separate system can ensure a high-speed connection for the rest of your office.
Advances in Technology
Installing a new wireless network is a serious undertaking, and your business needs to take steps to ensure that it is running well for as long as possible. To ensure that you are getting the most out of your new network, make sure that you are aware of the technologies available and are choosing the options that work best for your business.
Security should be your number-one priority when considering upgrading your wireless network. A data breach is a game-changer for any business and is to be avoided at all costs. One of the features of Wi-Fi 6 is a security measure called Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE). SAE implements an enhanced key exchange handshake to mitigate vulnerabilities found in WPA2. If you are upgrading to Wi-Fi 6, make sure that the infrastructure is optimized for the new system. Improvements in cabling are needed to ensure you are getting the most out of your investment.
Coverage isn’t Everything
Coverage is extremely important when designing your Wi-Fi network, but it should not be your only consideration. Coverage means nothing when your network doesn’t have the capacity for your employees to use it at the same time. Make sure that your network has the capacity to support your employees and their volume of work. For those employees who regularly consume large portions of data, consider utilizing alternative solutions, like a wired network.
While coverage isn’t everything, it is still important to your network. Concrete and metal obstructions like walls or racks can weaken your network. When surveying for your wireless network, make sure large obstructions are represented as they would be in your day-to-day operations. Interference from other networks or devices—like other business’ Wi-Fi networks and even the security system—can also weaken your network. These potential problems should be explored before you commit to your new Wi-Fi 6 network.
A Plan for Installation
Wi-Fi drives productivity in your workplace. Your business cannot afford significant downtime. To ensure that your new Wi-Fi 6 network is installed correctly, you might want to have trained technicians do the installation. After installation, you will want them to do a survey of the hardware and wireless network to ensure that everything is installed correctly. Having skilled technicians install and double-check the hardware decreases the probability of downtime and enables you to work out any snags that may cause problems later. A professional installation gives your network the best chance for success.
Monitoring and Analytics
After your network is installed and ready to go, use monitoring and analytics tools to measure its performance. Knowing how your business’ needs are growing and changing allows you to better meet them in the future. Keeping track of network activity allows you to quickly diagnose issues and confirm performance.