Extend Your Network’s Wireless Signal in 5 Steps

You know what the queue of colleagues outside your office door means: The company’s wireless signal isn’t powerful enough to extend to everyone. Too many associates are either trapped in dead zones or congregate in the one location with sufficient signal strength.

Everyone acknowledges the tight spot you’re in. But then come the pleas for improvements. ASAP, of course.

Here are five steps to help you extend your network’s wireless signal.

1. Thinking “off-kilter” can extend your wireless signal

Since a reliable WiFi signal is a precious commodity in any office environment, make sure it isn’t wasted on the copy paper and lunchroom supplies in the storage room. Conventional wisdom dictates that access points be placed at the centermost point of a location. But an off-center locale may extend to areas with a more significant number of associates.

CONSIDER: Relocating an access point to a more visible spot? Enclosures, covers, and brackets are available to alleviate even the fussiest office manager’s aesthetic concerns. If hiding it isn’t an option, then place it where it needs to be and simply own it. People are still buying clown art; any access point is an improvement over that.

2. Getting with the times may help your wireless signal reach more associates

The IT environment within a startup or small business can be a patchwork of good intentions, poorly researched but pricey hardware, and haphazard support. That’s a good recipe for bad signal reach. If you inherited such a situation, or the echoes of one, ask yourself the following questions during an examination of your entire network:

  • Are there any (likely overwhelmed) ISP-provided routers still in use?
  • Is it possible that multiple routers, each on its own channel, are poorly configured and interfering with one another?
  • Is all firmware up to date?
  • Are any access points placed to avoid known WiFi signal obstacles? (See the next section.)

CONSIDER: Playing catch-up with various elements of your system can help extend your wireless signal as well as address and stabilize other issues. But add some proactivity to your to-do list afterward. Determine the number of devices currently accessing the network, the applications those devices use, and the usage patterns of associates. VOIP, video conferencing, YouTube and Facebook can put a significant dent in wireless access throughout the office.

3. Living in a material world can help you avoid wireless signal obstacles

In ideal scenarios, business leaders prioritize WiFi site surveys before any office location or relocation. Since ideal scenarios can be few and far between, it’s sometimes necessary to deploy reactive measures to extend a network’s wireless signal.

That may mean taking careful note of the materials used in the construction of your office space and adjusting access point locations in response. Below is a list of which materials can be most and least impactful.

Higher signal interferenceLower signal interferenceConcretePlywoodMasonry blockDrywallBrickGlass

(Sources: National Institute of Standards and Technology, EyeSaaS)

CONSIDER: Moving the access point from the lobby closet that is encased in concrete on three sides to the conference room with the full-length glass wall and thin, poorly soundproofed drywall walls. If that’s not an option, try relocating the access point away from another signal-blocking culprit: filing cabinets.

4. Soliciting support will help you tackle some wireless signal issues

Addressing issues related to access point locations and construction materials won’t make much of a difference if your office associates try to self-medicate their connectivity woes with personal hotspots (remember the 500 or so WiFi networks  that choked an Apple keynote presentation) or by crowding around an access point (since the human body can interfere  with a WiFi signal). They can also make matters worse by tapping a disproportionate share of bandwidth binge-watching their favorite Netflix show in the background or playing Fortnite when their supervisor isn’t around.

CONSIDER: Enlisting the support of HR or communications to make sure associates understand their role in helping ensure reliable wireless access throughout the entire office. The signal will have an easier go of reaching the VP in the remote corner office without having to work its way through your 15 most connectivity-desperate associates.

5. Reaching for your wallet may be your best option for extending your wireless signal

Money can make many problems go away, especially in a situation like this. But there’s a reason this step comes in last: it’s likely that your supervisor will want to ensure whatever measures could be attempted have been attempted before she undertakes the arduous task of carving out funds from a budget determined many months ago.

If you’ve already taken great pains to shore up any weak points in the network, though, there’s no other option. It’s upgrade time. Having gone through the steps outlined above, you have a good sense of what the network needs to extend its wireless signal; you conducted a de facto site survey.

The following is a list of considerations you should make while mapping out your anticipated expenditures:

Multiple access pointsMore than 63 percent of total IP traffic by 2021  will come from wireless and mobile devices. A single access point — or even two or three of them — might not be enough to extend a WiFi signal to your associates and all of their devices.Business-grade routersIf you uncovered a residential-grade ISP-provided router while stepping through the “Get with the times” section, replacing it with something designed for enterprise applications will help guarantee it can handle the load placed on it by associates, their work devices, and their personal devices.Wireless network management systemWant to keep tabs on your network’s RF health, usage and performance data for devices accessing the network, process logs and historical reporting? Interested in a solution that can scale with the needs and growth of your business? You’ll want a wireless network management system.Support servicesFactors such as the number of business associates, business size, anticipated growth and current/ongoing projects will help dictate how much of all this work your IT department (or “you,” if you’re a department of one) can address. If the effort seems as though it might tax your resources too much, you’ll want to bring on some support.

CONSIDER: Productivity gains earned from extending the reach and capabilities of your network can far outshine the costs, especially if you have a vendor with a solid handle on future technologies and how they may play into upgrade strategies, scalability, and related issues. Based in the U.S., CTC Technologies, Inc. is an IT solutions provider capable of stepping in to support your IT infrastructure needs. We’re available immediately to help your company improve network performance, mitigate risk and operate efficiently. Contact us today for a free consultation about the solution that works best for your needs.

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