How to make the most out of your wireless network

Wireless Networking Woes

In this series of articles he discusses some of the more common IT scenarios he has dealt with and looks at potential solutions which could also benefit your business.

Everyone is familiar with wireless networking or “wifi”, no doubt you’ve used it to access the Internet in a café or hotel and probably have it at home as well. The ease of connecting and lack of cables often leads people to consider using it in their office too, but the results can be less than ideal. At help4IT we are regularly asked to come and sort out problems with wifi networks.

The usual problems are trouble connecting to the wifi, and poor performance from the wifi when connected, resulting in symptoms like slow web browsing, difficulty printing and intermittent email access. When we investigate there tend to be two common causes - coverage and congestion:

Coverage is the easier of the two to fix, distance from the wifi access point reduces the performance, and obstructions like walls will also affect it. Additional access points can be installed to extend the coverage, or in specific areas “Ethernet over Power” adaptors can use the mains power cabling to connect to the rest of the network.

Congestion is more of a challenge, neighbouring wifi networks interfere with the signal, reducing the effective coverage and performance. Sometimes it is possible to switch the wifi access point to use a different frequency that the neighbours aren’t using, or upgrade to a more powerful dual band access point which will just overpower them, but in those situations the problem often returns a few months later.

Congestion is a common problem in buildings containing multiple tenants, and if it is affecting your wifi then its worth considering the alternatives. For a start, is your wifi a necessity or just a convenience? We recommend using physical network cabling when connected for extended periods, as the reliability and performance will be far better. If your office doesn’t already have cabling installed then you can purchase cables to put in yourself, or get “Ethernet over Power” adaptors to turn the mains sockets into network ports. 

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