Good wireless connectivity is essential for both staff and guests in just about any business or public location. When you are making purchasing decisions about Wi-Fi equipment (or, if you are a reseller, deciding which Wi-Fi solutions to offer your customers), there are three broad areas you need to consider.
Capacity and future growth
You need enough access points and other Wi-Fi equipment to meet your immediate needs, but you also need to consider what kind of scale and capacity you will need in the future, certainly over the next two to three years. This is more important than pure performance, as it’s almost always the number of devices connecting to Wi-Fi that causes issues, rather than pure speed or available bandwidth.
Simply installing more access points may increase the coverage area for Wi-Fi but won’t solve signal collision problems. In fact, putting more access points into busy areas might cause congestion and channel conflict. If you expect the number of devices accessing the Wi-Fi within a defined space to increase significantly over time – or to have occasions on which many users and devices will need to connect (such as in an exhibition space or a theatre), you will need to plan ahead.
Technologies that optimise the signal between devices and routers can alleviate this issue and the choice you make here will depend on your needs. MIMO Wave 2 technology is one option but devices that connect to your Wi-Fi will need to support it. Smart antenna technology delivers similar or better performance and can be used by any mobile devices; they do cost a little more but give you more future-proofing.
Visibility and control
Digital security is critical to all organisations and with GDPR regulation coming into force next year, it will be even more important to know who is accessing information. It will be vital to have control over who has access to the wireless network and gather information about who logged on and when. You may also want the ability to restrict what kind of sites and content users can access.
It will also be important to maintain consistent connectivity for users. As well as expecting Wi-Fi to be available and to deliver good performance, users and guests will also expect it to work at all times. As well as quality and reliability of equipment, it is worth looking at what happens when devices fail and what method of recovery is available when they do. Some routers and access points come with self-healing features, so these may be worth consideration.
You may also want to consider an SLA that gives you a guaranteed replacement within a fixed time. Or a different way of acquiring and managing Wi-Fi equipment.
Your consumption or business model
Most organisations are already using applications and services that reside in the cloud, for which they pay an annual or monthly subscription fee, or on a pay-as-you-go basis. Similar options are already available for hardware and infrastructure equipment as well, so you may well be able to pay a regular fee to have the latest Wi-Fi technology, with maintenance, performance management and security monitored remotely.
Different options will be available; you might want to have your supplier look after everything, or buy the equipment yourself and then have a third party manage and monitor it for you. Or you might want to keep everything in-house. But you will have the option and it is a good idea to think about what kind of model you want to use now, so you can adopt it at the most convenient time.
If you are a reseller, you’ll also need to think about the choices you offer to your customers. It could be any or all of the above.
All these points are worth considering when you are looking at the direction you want to take with your wireless networking in the future. If you need help or assistance, Zyxel will be happy to talk to you in more detail about the choices available.