If you’re looking for a high performing WiFi solution for your office building, then you may be wondering what you should be looking for, and what the latest best practices are.
There are some basic demands from WiFi for commercial buildings, such as:
– Connectivity across the entire building
– Security of your data
– Fast download and upload speeds
However, in today’s age, WiFi gets a bit more complex than this. Whilst on the ground, the above features are what the end user (possibly your end client) is looking for, for the building owner there are other considerations to fact or in.
In this article we cover important aspects that we consider when implementing business WiFi and clear up some of the myths when it comes to commercial grade WiFi.
1. Commercial WiFi Speeds
So much so that many WiFi providers will tout ‘fast speeds’ as one of their selling points. But let’s clear up the myth here.
WiFi speeds are mostly determined by your core network. When we say core network, we mean your internet connection, network switching fabric and cabling. Your WiFi network is a vehicle to allow users to access your core network from wireless points around your building.
Whilst your WiFi solution can cause problems in accessing your network, and can therefore detrimentally impact speeds, it can’t improve your speeds. This is down to your core network.
How to achieve fast WiFi speeds in commercial buildings
So, what can you to do ensure that your users have fast WiFi? Firstly, we always address the core network to a commercial property first.
A fixed fibre connection is typically the best way forward here. It’s the most reliable way of gaining internet connectivity to a building and offers a dedicated fibre into the building that can then be distributed across the site via the WiFi network. It’s not the only choice, and you may find that a fixed fibre isn’t a viable option for you, but that’s a subject to address another day. Let’s assume that you’ve got a strong fixed fibre internet connection for now.
Your network switching fabric is like your brains of your network. It connects users, apps and equipment across the network, allowing communication and information sharing.
There are many different grades of switches out there on the market. In fact, this equipment can be the difference to what your commercial WiFi solution is capable of, and not. When I started Wireless Solutions I made the decision to use enterprise level switches. This is a step above a lot of WiFi providers. But, learning from experience, it was the only option in my eyes.
Enterprise-grade network switches have really made a huge difference to the performance of WiFi solutions across every single client of mine. Not only in their speeds, but also in the security and additional features offered.
Let me try to explain why.
Some providers recommend having multiple different WiFi networks within a building, or a business. Imagine creating a separate guest WiFi network, a separate WiFi network for IoT devices, and then hotspots for your staff. All with unique passwords so you can control who connects to which network.
Whilst this is one way of doing it, and it can help to ensure security of your data, it’s not what we recommend.
Our model is to provide a single WiFi network to the building, and assign devices to multiple VLANs (Virtual Local Area Network). We authenticate devices to a VLAN, which offers greater security.
The benefit of a single WiFi network over multiple WiFi networks? You won’t have contention between the WiFi networks. All traffic is optimised and, if managed correctly, then all traffic be allowed to flow, effectively giving you better WiFi speeds, no drop-outs on certain WiFi networks, and .avoiding the common issue of slow speeds when other WiFi networks are carrying huge amounts of data.
And then there’s a benefit around security, which we come onto. But most importantly, our enterprise grade network switches distribute traffic much more efficiently, making contention or restrictions a thing of the past.
Scalability and Agility
The other thing to consider with your core network is its ability to flex with the needs of your building. For example, if your building is over multiple floors, can your core accommodate a new WiFi network on a new floor and link this seamlessly into to the existing core network?
This is where network design plays an important part. Designing a core network to allow scalability and flexibility will save you money and hassle in the long run if you want to be agile with your commercial building.
And again, enterprise grade hardware will help you on your way here.
So we’ve discussed your core network and how this can contribute to speed. We recommend a single network that can be managed using VLANs so as not to allow contention (and yes, clients can control which devices are assigned to their VLANs, giving them control over their networks).
But what about WiFi? WiFi providers talk about their ‘fast’ WiFi, so it must have some impact on end user speeds, right?
Well, that’s not the whole picture. Let’s first clarify that WiFi is how your internet is distributed across the building, allowing users to access the internet connection over a wireless signal. Basically instead of the old ethernet connection, a wireless access point is used. So can it speed up the bandwidth that you have coming into the building? No. But can it slow it down? Absolutely.
So, the best WiFi solutions are those that allow your computer to send things freely over your internet connection, without contention.
Now, using the right grade of hardware (let’s talk access points) and technology (the software that sits on your core) will really help your WiFi.
At Wireless Solutions, our technology allows us to run high availability (where your access points will switch over to another network, or internet connection in the event of a network error) and we manage the traffic in a unique way to reduce the time between sending your data requests and it being actioned by the network.
And a desktop plan of your building can show you exactly which zones will be able to access the internet with seamless connectivity so you can sign it off.
2. WiFi Security
OK so we’ve touched on security, but your clients will want the reassurance that their data is secure if they’re sharing a single WiFi network across the building.
The solution we’re recommending here is used by Blue Chip companies across the globe to increase security. This is because, instead of using multiple WiFi networks that require just a password to access them, our approach is to authenticate individual devices. It’s much more secure.
Imagine that you have 10 employees in your office. They can have their devices authenticated on a single VLAN for the business. This includes any smart devices – phones, laptops, tablets etc. Plus office devices like printers and scanners. You can add and remove individual devices from the network internally, controlling to the device level, who can access your VLAN.
Then for guests you can assign a different VLAN, keeping them away from your office network.
Many businesses even have VLANs assigned to individual teams, so contractors get their own VLAN, departments can collaborate together etc.
It steps up security when it comes to WiFi. And of course, with Firewalls you stop all unplanned incoming traffic.
Enterprise-grade technology with good network design and implementation can really improve user experience when it comes to connectivity, allowing them to be more productive.
If you’d like to discuss WiFi for commercial buildings in more detail, please get in touch. We’d be more than happy to help out.
Will Skewes is the Founder of Wireless Solutions. With a background in telecommunications, he launched his first WiFi business in 2016 before starting up Wireless Solutions in 2023 to bring more advanced technology to the market.
About Wireless Solutions
Wireless Solutions is a leading provider of internet and WiFi technology for events, businesses, construction sites and temporary office locations.