Setting up Wi-Fi for your business but don't have a go-to IT person to help you? Don't worry, it's easier than you think. First, you need to figure out what type of Wi-Fi system you want, and the easiest way to do that is to ask yourself who will be using the connection, how many users you will have at a time, and how large the space is that requires Wi-Fi connectivity.
Choosing business Wi-Fi vs. home Wi-Fi
As you've probably noticed, there are Wi-Fi packages marketed specifically to businesses, and others that are less expensive and positioned as being for home-use only. If you're a small business owner, you might think an affordable home Wi-Fi package is fine, but unless you're a sole proprietorship, opt for a business-grade access point.
Wi-Fi for home use is simply not robust enough for heavy usage by lots of people, and there usually aren't many security options included. In all but the tiniest businesses, a home Wi-Fi connection will quickly become overtaxed and slow, and while you can extend your signal's reach using range extenders, you won't be strengthening the signal, just spreading it across a wider area. So, to extend coverage because you're hiring more staff and expanding your office, you'll eventually have to upgrade to a business system.
Business-grade Wi-Fi is intended for heavy use by lots of different types of users (on different types of devices) and is generally easier to upgrade than home Wi-Fi. Many businesses opt for Wi-Fi packages that include support for multiple SSIDs, which makes it possible to provide Wi-Fi access to people at different security levels. For example, you might allow visitors to your office to utilize basic Wi-Fi use but keep some systems locked down while granting full-time employees total access. You can also set up multiple access points using a business Wi-Fi account to not only extend the range of coverage but also enable your Wi-Fi to support more simultaneous users.
Setting up your Wi-Fi
Depending on the business Wi-Fi subscription you choose, you may or may not have to set up your wireless network yourself. Most companies that provide business packages offer installation as an included feature on all but the entry-level packages, and many companies offer installation services as an optional add-on. If you can easily afford it and are nervous about setting up Wi-Fi yourself, opt for the full-service installation.
Basic modem and router setup
If you go the DIY route, don't panic. Setting up Wi-Fi isn't that complicated unless you're outfitting a very large space, and any decent provider will issue you everything you need as well as step-by-step instructions. The process may vary slightly by provider, but in general, you'll unpack a modem and router and several cords (usually a coax cable, a power cable for a standard wall outlet and an Ethernet cord).
In many cases, the cords and ports are color coordinated for super easy setup, and nowadays, some modems are modem/router hybrids, so there may be just one tower to set up. The key is confirming what should be included with your Wi-Fi provider to ensure you have what you need. Once you unpack everything, you'll need to connect your modem to both an electrical outlet and a cable wall outlet (or directly to an ethernet port) and then connect your modem to your router, if they're separate.
Onboarding and security setup
Next, you'll have to set up your wireless network. The best way to do this is to make sure everything is connected and turned on (your router will probably have a light on it to indicate an active signal) and then access wireless networks through a local computer and select your new router. If you're not sure which network is yours, check the router itself. Usually there's a sticker with the default network name printed on it. The password is also usually printed on the sticker or in the setup documentation, so you should be able to log on and use your new wireless system easily.
The last setup step is configuring and customizing your wireless settings. It's advisable to change your default password to something complicated enough for a secure connection. It's also advisable to change your Wi-Fi password periodically, unless the network is primarily for public use (like in a cafe or bookstore). If you're setting up multiple access points with different encryptions, consult with your wireless provider and consider outsourcing the task.