It’s almost a completely foreign concept to go somewhere and not have guest wifi. If you’re a small business owner, you might want to provide a free connection for your guests; that’s a great customer service! To do so safely and ensure it does not interrupt your regular business operations though, we’ll look at guest wifi quality, bandwidth, and safety and security.
What do you look for when you connect to guest wireless? Is it fast enough to browse the web, watch a video, or check email? What is the signal strength like? Is the process to join the network easy and simple? These are all involved in quality. Working with a network professional to make sure your guest spaces have adequate signal coverage and enough access points to handle the number of clients connecting, while keeping guest traffic segmented from the normal network will go a long way to designing a long-lasting system. In addition, if new Wireless Access Points must be installed, performing a wireless site survey and channel scan will identify potential sources of interference in advance so they can be mitigated and planned for in the design phase.
After you’ve made sure the network can handle the number of guests you may have, the next consideration is bandwidth. A good rule of thumb for most networks is to take the maximum number of guests you anticipate, to ensure you can provide 3MBps download and 1MBps upload speed for each guest, and have the ability to shape traffic to limit the amount available per device. Some networks may offer a free rate, then have the option to pay for an enhanced rate as well. These numbers will vary, depending on your use case; coffee shops, automotive shop waiting areas, doctor’s offices and similar places where there will be a lot of time people are using their devices may need more. Restaurant dining areas, industrial facilities, grocery stores, and other related industries can work with less due to the transient nature of their clientele. If you can’t provide that amount as a baseline and still maintain a reasonable amount of bandwidth for your business operations though, it may be worth considering a larger circuit or to potentially avoid providing guest wireless.
If both of these expectations can be met, the final and most important aspect is safety and security. How will guest traffic be handled? Will some content be blocked? How will guests acknowledge the terms and conditions of your network? A good first step to addressing these questions is to create an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which guests will need to acknowledge via a splash page before accessing the internet. Through this process it will help you determine if you need to use a firewall to block some content types, and how you will ensure clients are appropriately isolated from one another (and more importantly, from your primary business network). The Information Security Institute has a great article to help you get started on creating an AUP for your business needs.
Considering the aspects of quality, bandwidth management, and security will help your business be able to provide a great guest wireless experience. When seamlessly integrated with your existing business model this will enhance your customer’s satisfaction and be one more reason they continue to choose you as their small business of choice. To get started with designing and implementing a great solution for your customers, contact us today and we’ll help you with this crucial service!