Before cloud access and the explosion of the mobile workforce changed the way businesses perform operations, very large enterprises were the only organizations that required (or could maintain) managed Wi-Fi. However, in the changing business landscape, small to medium businesses (SMBs) are recognizing a growing desire to have fiber connections that deliver increased speed for both their employees and their customers.
Lightning fast connections at home have become the norm, which makes it frustrating to deal with slow connections in the workplace. Fortunately, cloud solutions have made it possible for SMBs to attain a wireless local area network (LAN) where the planning, deployment, and management are conducted by a trusted service provider.
The Growing Need for Managed Wi-Fi
Pew Research has cataloged the growing demand for both mobility and fast network connections in the workplace. According to their recent survey, 21 percent of Americans report that they are online “almost constantly,” and 75 percent use a smartphone, tablet, or similar device to access the Internet at least occasionally.
Businesses now need to attract more mobile-savvy employees. Managed Wi-Fi makes it possible to enhance connections with current satellite workers and improve overall productivity. Other benefits of managed Wi-Fi service include:
- Secure Internet access for guest workers and customers
- Augment current IT personnel and support staff through a reduced networking burden
- Flexible incorporation of mobile support, including bring your own device BYOD
Installation, Configuration, and Getting Started
Previously, businesses that wanted to deploy a private wireless LAN were required to own, control, and maintain the network in-house, which left most SMBs out of the equation. However, with a managed Wi-Fi provider, any size company may offer customers and employees the speeds and access that they expect.
However, installation and configuration are crucial. Businesses should evaluate their current WAN and LAN infrastructure to determine their existing needs, as well as prepare for any expected future growth. A provider will handle equipment installation, routers, and access points, along with any network setup and carrier-grade circuit connections required. Moreover, with a service provider, SMBs gain professional, ongoing management to ensure performance, security, and compliance.
Security and Benefits
When orchestrating a change to managed Wi-Fi, security, as always, needs to take precedence. Wireless LANs are typically more secure than wide area networks, but companies should consider overhauling their current security protocols to help ensure network security. Service level agreements should include:
- Continuous software updates to minimize threats
- Strict internal policy that includes hierarchy access—absolutely no shared passwords
- Segmented networks that separate guest, client, and employee systems
- Augmented staff capabilities; management solutions to supplement current IT personnel and end-to-end service, if required
- Ability to detect rogue wireless access
- Equipment leasing options that reduce capital outlays
- Flexibility to initiate routine alterations or view usage statistics (to ensure accurate planning processes)
Managed Wi-Fi offers businesses a competitive advantage for today’s tech dependent lifestyle. Using cloud-based solutions, SMBs can create their own wireless local area network that improves productivity by maximizing connection speeds and offering users the access they expect.