Key Tips to Find the Best Wi-Fi Router for Your Small Business
You have decided to start a home business, and this is a great idea! You’ll save a lot of money by using one of the rooms as your office, and you’ve already got a computer and Internet access – what else could you wish for?
While it is true that having Internet access is critical for any modern business, be it big or small, the quality of your Internet connection can often times make the difference between failure and success. If your network’s Wi-Fi signal is poor or unreliable, you may be unable to answer client calls, access critical data when you need it, read and reply to emails when it’s mandatory to do so, etc.
This article will provide the needed info, helping you get the best wireless experience for your small business. And it’s important to know from the very beginning that 90% of the battle is won by simply replacing your ancient router with a modern one.
But before purchasing a new router, it’s best to learn a little bit about Wi-Fi standards and technologies. All of them are part of the big 802.11 family; what separates them is a letter or two that are added to the family code. Everything started with 802.11a, and now the currently established standard is 802.11n, soon to be followed by 802.11ac, which has already been implemented in several high-end routers.
Modern routers make use of Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) or a variation of this technology (MU-MIMO), utilizing 4 to 8 Wi-Fi antennas that send the wireless signal intelligently, with the goal of maximizing performance. Obviously, the newest 802.11ac standard, which utilizes 8 antennas, is a clear winner here, so this should be an important aspect to consider if you plan to purchase a new router that’s ready for the future.
With MU-MIMO, the router can process several data streams in parallel, being able to serve multiple devices without slowing down at all – provided that you’ve got a solid Internet connection, of course. It looks like a MU-MIMO router is by far the best solution – and it really is! – but it won’t offer vast speed improvements if your devices (laptop, tablet, smartphone) are unable to make use of the 802.11ac speed boost. If you’ve got an ancient laptop, for example, you may not experience a vastly improved Internet browsing experience.
Most routers still use the 2.4GHz band, while newer models run on the 5HGz band. Recent research coming from Data Alliance has shown surprising facts, though: the higher frequency band doesn’t always lead to faster download/upload speeds. Still, the new 5GHz band has many more channels, which means that you’ve got a much higher chance of finding a less crowded channel in your area, and thus minimize interference. I’d say that purchasing a 5HGz router is wise, but prepare to switch to the good old, trusty 2.4GHz band if you see that the Wi-Fi connection works better that way.
The features above are the main hardware characteristics that you should go for.But there are a few more key features that you should take into consideration, like Wi-Fi management options and additional functionality.
You should purchase a router that supports guest networks, for example. This way, if you’ve got visitors who want Internet access, and thus need your Wi-Fi password, you can give them access to the guest network and keep your business network secure.
Another good idea is to purchase a router that can set different bandwidths for each device. It’s an easy method of preventing family members from slowing you down whenever they want to stream the latest and greatest movie in full HD. This feature is called Quality of Service (QoS) and can be found in many modern routers.
We’ve discussed several key router features in this article, but the truth is that no Wi-Fi connection can beat a wired connection when it comes to speed and reliability. If you use a standard computer, or if you can live with the idea of having a network cable hanging from your laptop, a wired connection is the ideal solution indeed.