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December 06, 2018

Is My WiFi Strong Enough for My Small Business?

WiFi Signal Strength

Almost everyone has experienced the disruption of a weak WiFi connection — Web pages take so long to load that it brings back memories of dial-up modems, files need hours to download, and even something as simple as an Airdrop can be a hassle. A poor WiFi signal renders high-speed Internet useless, especially if the network receives a lot of traffic from different devices or your computer is a long way from the router. To keep business moving (and avoid frustrated customers), use these guidelines to ensure the WiFi at your business location can handle whatever you throw at it.

Identify the weak points

Walk around your business with your phone connected to the WiFi network and look for any areas where the signal strength drops. You can also use a speed test service in each of these spots to get an idea of how fast your connection is. Keep in mind that the speed will drop the farther away you are from the router. If you have employees with desks out of the WiFi range, set them up with Ethernet cords so they can easily access the Internet. Or, consider getting an Internet booster to increase your WiFi’s strength and reach.

Place the router in a clear location

Many customer-facing small businesses hide the router somewhere out of sight, but this can block the signal and slow down speeds. The perfect position for the router is in a clear, semi-central location. The higher you can place it, the better the coverage will be for the entire business. You should also keep the router away from appliances like microwaves and telephones to avoid interference.

Know what speeds you need

Because a wireless network will experience some speed drop-off, it's important to know what your base WiFi speeds should be. For a small business with one or two employees who only use basic email and Web-surfing, a connection with 25 Mbps (megabits per second) could be enough. However, this connection may struggle with bigger tasks, like streaming HD video. For a business that is tasked with managing large digital files, holding video conferences, running an e-commerce website, or handling multiple file backups per day, you may want to look into higher speeds of 150 Mbps or 300 Mbps. Or, aim higher. With Comcast Business, you can get Gig-speed Internet.

Upgrade your router

If you’re still using an older router with external antennas, it may be time to upgrade. Although most modern routers have internal antennas, those that don't can allow you to point the WiFi to a specific area. You should also check whether your router automatically shifts to channels and bands that are less crowded. In the United States, most routers operate on a 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz frequency, with multiple "channels" per frequency. As these channels become congested with traffic, some routers will move to a less-crowded channel to maintain performance and speed. Upgrading to a router that does this will offer better Internet performance even when many people are using the WiFi at the same time.

Keep the firmware up to date

Your router requires regular updates just like your computer does. Keep an eye on the firmware and making sure everything is updated regularly, so you can ensure your router is operating at peak efficiency. Firmware updates also increase the security of both your router and your network. One of the most common vulnerabilities that hackers and malware exploit is out-of-date firmware. Many routers update automatically or from your account page, but if you’re not sure how to update yours, a quick Google search should reveal the latest firmware and instructions on how to install it.

Slow Internet speed is more than just a nuisance — it can be detrimental to your business. Knowing how to improve your Internet speed will help keep your employees and your customers happy. Comcast Business can help you ensure you have the speed you need.