Visitors to almost every type of business these days expect free access to wireless internet (WiFi). However, while many small businesses today offer WiFi to their guests, there’s a problem: They often use older WiFi technology that lacks the features and capabilities that visitors want or need.
“When they come to your office, they want to use your WiFi while they are working or waiting,” says Howard Page, owner of the Atlanta office of TeamLogic IT, a national managed IT services, support and consulting franchise.
But if public WiFi is going to provide optimum results, it has to be done right, Page says. Here are five must-have features:
- Security measures
Public WiFi can be a major security issue—for both visitors and the business offering it. So, take some basic security precautions, Page says. First, your public WiFi should be on a separate network from the internal WiFi your employees use. It’s important that it be set up properly so it’s completely isolated from the rest of your network,” he says. That will keep users on the guest network from accessing company records or files.
It’s also important to limit access to the guest network by requiring a password to log on. Otherwise, passersby or neighboring establishments could use your WiFi, potentially slowing network performance and hampering operations.
- Easy access
Customers should be able to log in to the guest WiFi network without undue hassle. So, while requiring a password is basic security, make sure the password is easy to locate.
“From a security perspective, you need a password,” Page says. “But it should be readily available to guests.” That means posting it prominently and clearly in a place where customers can easily spot it, such as near a cash register or reception desk.
- Adequate signal coverage
WiFi signals can be blocked by walls and furniture, creating dead spots that can frustrate visitors attempting to use your business WiFi. Make sure to test all corners of public spaces for adequate signal strength and use repeaters or additional access points to fill in weak spots.
“In general, we recommend you have more access points that are not as powerful, rather than having one that’s blasting everywhere,” Page says. A single, high-powered access point might transmit your guest WiFi signal far down the block where it could be pirated, he explains. “This lets you control it more.”
- Plenty of speed
Customers may use your business WiFi to read email, watch streaming video or do other common online tasks. For the best customer experience, make sure your WiFi has enough speed for work or entertainment to flow smoothly.
Wireless routers using the 802.11ac technology standard, also known as WiFi 5, are the top-rated current standard for WiFi networks. Future standards, of course, will likely be faster, so you may want to upgrade older routers periodically.
- Remote configuration
Modern business WiFi is highly reliable, but may require some maintenance. Being able to check and manage your WiFi network from another location will keep you happy while also keeping your customers happy. “Make sure the solution that gets installed is remotely manageable,” Page says.
Just offering WiFi to your customers and visitors today isn’t enough. Make sure it has the features they expect.Print this article