Slow WiFi in the Office? 6 Common Enterprise WiFi Problems and How to Fix Them
The office: a cubicle-filled, fluorescent-lit mecca where millions of Americans gather daily to crunch numbers, create spreadsheets and craft expert emails.
In the office, WiFi is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Communication, planning, data management, even time-thieving social media perusing, is all dependent on a reliable wireless network connection. It really makes you wonder how an office ever operated in a time before WiFi.
For this very reason, it is required that the WiFi performance always be reliable and secure. Read on to find out some potential factors that could be resulting in slow WiFi speeds and how WiFi as a Service from SecurEdge can help.
If you are purchasing wireless network hardware for your office space and are not familiar with the WiFi industry aside from some internet research, it can be overwhelming choosing the right products and quantities.
To get the best results from your WiFi network, it's important that you deploy an adequate number of access points, controllers, firewalls and switches.
There are many factors such as square footage, building materials, ceiling heights and number of daily users that can seriously impact the type and number of hardware products you need. There are many different varieties of these products, all designed for specific needs. And here's the kicker, they can be really expensive!
You don't want to order thousands (or even millions) of dollars worth of hardware only to later discover you bought too many access points or the wrong type of controller etc. Doing so is not only detrimental for your budget, but will likely cause WiFi performance issues.
Too many access points in a space can cause co-channel interference, improper load balancing, or just be unnecessary (and pricey) overkill. The wrong type of access point is even worse. Do you need any outdoor APs? Do you need controller-based or controller-less? Directional or Omni-directional? Whats the difference??
All of these questions and more can be answered by a trusted team of wireless network engineers who have years of industry experience designing WiFi networks for office spaces.
So you've done the research, purchased the gear and deployed the network. Congrats! Job well done! For now...
At the current rate of technological advancement, wireless network hardware becomes obsolete after just 3-5 years!
So if it's been a couple of years since you've installed the WiFi network and you're starting to experience slower connection speeds, this could be the culprit.
Now you're back at square one looking at another major expenditure, not to mention your business has likely grown over those couple of years and you have more users on your network bringing all sorts of devices with them. Maybe you've installed some fancy IoT devices in that time as well, like WiFi based security locks or Nest environmental controls.
Not only do you need to purchase new hardware, but you'll possibly require a different deployment than the first time around, so it's not enough to hit "reorder" on your shopping cart. This can be a headache for even an experienced IT tech.
To stay up-to-date and avoid the drama of an outdated hardware network, choose SecurEdge WiFi as a Service. Hardware refreshes are built into your subscription, so when the time comes to update we'll let you know, reassess your network needs and deploy a fresh network and you'll just continue paying the monthly subscription, no need to invest another large capital expenditure. That's good news for you and the finance department!
Equally as important as having the right hardware, is keeping that hardware up to date.
Firmware updates come with improvements like bug fixes, improved standards and other enhancements that will help optimize how users and devices interact with your access points and vice versa.
Outdated firmware can lead to "sticky client" behavior, where a device will automatically connect to an access point, even if there is one closer to connect to. This will obviously result in slower WiFi speeds for your devices and applications, so keep that firmware updated!
If you don't have time to worry about updates, consider WiFi as a Service. We'll manage your network and automatically update your hardware as new updates become available, ensuring that you're always running the latest versions and providing a reliable and secure wireless network.
If you purchased hardware from a reseller, direct from the manufacturer, or from Amazon *shudders* then chances are your wireless network hardware was not configured for your unique space.
There are a number of factors that must be considered when programming your hardware that could have serious implications after deployment if not properly configured. and lead to slow WiFi performance and possibly even reduced security.
For instance, if you have a large office space with multiple floors, closed offices, large windows, various building materials, etc, you will require a more complex network with multiple access points. These access points will need to be programmed to different channels in order to operate smoothly. Co-channel interference occurs when multiple AP's are operating on the same channel, which negatively impacts their performance and can cause them all to work less efficiently.
You should also configure your network for multiple types of users. Role-based Access Control is the process of delineating your WiFi network and assigning specific permissions to different users. You can create guest networks, separate IoT and personal devices from business devices and even segregate higher level employees or users and devices that manage sensitive material such as banking information or personal data. This is not only an effective way to prioritize your network usage and ensure faster WiFi speeds, but it's also a major way to ensure a secure WiFi network, which is a top priority in enterprise-grade WiFi.
So you've gotten the right hardware and configured it correctly, but your not out of the woods yet. All of this can be foiled by bad installation. It's not enough to stick the AP to the wall and call it a day. There are many factors to consider before deploying your network.
You need to consider your access point types. Did you get a model with external antenna (directional)? Great! Make sure they are pointing in the right direction! WiFi signals shoot outward from the antenna, so if you place the AP next to a wall, under a desk, above device level or with the antenna pointing away from your coverage area, you're going to experience slow WiFi speeds.
Maybe you chose a model with internal antenna (omni-directional)? Nice. These access points are designed to provide 365 degree coverage, so you have more flexibility on placement. However, if your office has high ceilings, (think 20+ feet) your access point will struggle to reach your devices if installed on the ceiling. When it comes to installation, don't go it alone. Always use a trusted expert to make sure you're getting the most out of your equipment (and your investment).
No One to Manage the Network
Let's face it, having an in-house IT guy is a luxury. If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated technician on your team, then you probably don't spend very much time worrying about your WiFi network. But if you're like many offices across the country that rely on outsourced techs or share one team with multiple locations or offices, it can be a struggle to maintain your network and troubleshoot problems when they occur.
A great way to easily stay on top of your WiFi performance is with Managed Network Services from SecurEdge. You'll get 24/7 network monitoring so you can rest easy knowing the network is being monitored. You'll receive weekly and monthly health reports detailing any potential threats, any software updates that were performed, and any other important information regarding your network. We'll notify you if our lab detects faulty devices and with Tier 2 level support, walk you through the problem and help resolve it for you.
Included in the Software as a Service is the SecurEdge Cloud which will give you access to live network performance analytics so you can login anytime and see how your network is performing. Get valuable metrics about device and application usage, onboard users and devices, and manage your captive portal.
Ready to make the shift to subscription? Give us a call to learn more about SecurEdge WiFi as a Service.
Brittany is the Marketing Coordinator for SecurEdge. If they had a company softball team she would make the T Shirts and play Shortstop.