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The case for going wireless

01 Aug 2010

The convenience of being mobile has made wireless networks an increasingly popular choice when setting up a home office or moving into a new work space.

Fortunately, most laptops and many internet modems now include wireless capabilities as standard. Most modern wireless networks can easily cover medium-sized offices and multiple rooms. Printers, scanners and file systems can also be accessed wirelessly, banishing cables altogether. Wireless networks can have a big impact on team style, culture, client satisfaction – and productivity.

Employees are more likely to take wireless laptops to meetings, as they don’t have to unplug or dock them. Contractors can share your internet access and be productive when working from your offices – just give them the security password and they’re in. ‘Hot-desking’, or having team members work side-by-side during crunch time, is possible when they can just pick up a laptop and move.

Secure your network

When setting up your network, it is essential to turn on the security settings – too many businesses and celebrities have been embarrassed by using networks anyone can snoop on.

Follow the instructions that come with your wireless router or modem to log in, specify a password and encrypt your data. You many also want to define which staff can access different resources.

The best wireless networks come equipped with management software, meaning you don’t need a rocket scientist on staff. Troubleshooting becomes much easier if you have an easy-to-read interface and network diagram for monitoring and configuring your network.

Getting good coverage

Most off-the-shelf wireless networks easily cover a small office, and you can extend or boost coverage if needed. Generally, the closer you are to an access point, the stronger the signal and the faster the connection. Multiple antennas on your sending and receiving devices help. Wireless access points at the edges of your network will replicate the signal over a larger area. Use equipment with the latest standards if possible.

It’s useful to know the type of applications you’ll use – video (like YouTube) can be a ‘stop-start’ affair wirelessly, but you can set Quality of Service settings to prioritise different types of traffic. By paying attention to these aspects of your wireless network, you and your staff can be truly mobile – and productive.