Contrary to popular belief, the term ‘Wi-Fi’ is not an abbreviation for ‘Wireless Fidelity’. It is a term trademarked (by the Wi-Fi Alliance) for any "wireless local area network (WLAN) products that are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) 802.11 standards." Wi-Fi currently uses 2.4GHz & 5GHz frequencies to create a Wireless LAN (WLAN).With equipment correctly purposed for the application/environment where it will be used, not only can a WLAN assist with wired connectivity challenges, but it can also help with marketing and even create another source of revenue through the use of what is known as a Captive Portal.
A Captive Portal - is the familiar Web interface / Landing page we have all seen when we are in for example, a coffee shop, restaurant or hotel and initially attempt to access the establishment’s WLAN (Wi-Fi) in order to connect to the Internet. The page will typically require the user to agree to certain conditions of usage (e.g., no SPAM’ing, no accessing illegal or immoral sites, no hacking, etc.) via acceptance of an end-user license agreement (EULA). It may also present some marketing on the page and may require payment in exchange for access for a certain period of time. Once the time has elapsed another payment is required or access is terminated. In the same manner access can be completely free (typically intended if you are a paying customer of that establishment only) but can also be timed (for example, to control the number of users with respect to available bandwidth.
Regardless of whether access is granted on a paid or free basis, it is important to segment (separate) 'Guests' on your network especially when that same network ties into your business applications. While Internet access may be fine, being able to tap into your customer database or payroll is probably not. Although both sides (guests & employees) may be drawing water from the same supply main (to use a plumbing analogy), it is usually desirable to have ‘valves’ in place to control how much water they can tap (too much and the pressure on your end goes down) and whether the two side can mix or remain separate. The water would be bandwidth and the mix/no-mix would be virtual or completely separate networks.
Another common aspect of Wi-Fi and performance is interference from other WLAN’s and from other RF producing devices like microwave ovens and florescent lights. Even when there are no other signals present or sources of EMI like AC wiring or electrical motors, reception can be blocked or reduced by any number of modern building materials used in walls, windows, insulation and supporting structure. Networks therefore need to customized to their environment in order to perform as desired.
Larger deployments, for example long hallways, high square footage, multiple floors and campus environments bring different coverage challenges. Users will move between different AP’s as they walk about and coverage must transition effortlessly w/o drops as they ‘Roam’.
Bottom line, you don’t have to wrestle with any of these on your own or at all. Just give us a call. Let us know what you like to have and we’ll plan the network, install and configure the Routers, Switches, Wireless Access Points, Controller, etc. If there’s ever an issue or a change needed our IT and MSP group can assist with as much or as little as you wish.