Connectivity is critical for any small to medium-sized business (SMB) to deliver goods and services for its customers and enable a fast and productive work experience for its employees. This need was amplified by the shift to remote work and changing customer expectations. The pandemic forced many SMBs to look for ways to create high-touch digital experiences for customers and sophisticated new business tools for communication, collaboration, and more. As more in-person processes shifted to the Internet, small business owners found themselves fighting for bandwidth within their own operations, especially if operations were in their own homes. The good news is that WiFi is changing—and there are more tools and technologies available than ever for businesses of all sizes to leverage.
Robust WiFi connectivity is still one of the most fundamental tools for success. For modern-day SMB owners, their connection needs to be safe, fast, reliable, and accessible everywhere they work.
For those SMB owners wondering how to make this a reality, there are answers in sight, beginning with WiFi 6, which can offer improved network performance, security, and seamless connectivity. Not sure exactly what WiFi 6 is or why it is important? Don’t worry—we have you covered.
WiFi 6: A Competitive Edge
With more devices than ever battling for bandwidth, next-generation business and in-home wireless networks must be properly equipped to handle the unprecedented congestion.
Enter WiFi 6, which reshapes the way WiFi routers and access points handle the growing number of internet-connected devices. In fact, it allows for up to 12 streams at once, with 4x more capacity and a 40% increase in data throughput over the previous generation of WiFi. Breaking new ground in network efficiency, WiFi 6 also enables improved battery performance of mobile WiFi 6 products that are now widely available and a priority in the work-from-anywhere era.
Why Your Small Business Should Consider Upgrading to WiFi 6
Solutions like an effective WiFi 6 network are fundamental to delivering services to your customers. As an SMB owner, upgrading to WiFi 6 can have an immediate impact on your connectivity. While WiFi 5 brought gigabit speeds to WiFi connections, it falls short on delivering the best WiFi experience as businesses continue to add more devices to their networks.
To get started on this upgrade, identify what sort of network you require. If you haven’t upgraded your router or access points in a while, your WiFi is slowing to a crawl, and if you keep adding more connected devices, then WiFi 6 is the answer to help future-proof your business.
Other things to consider include whether or not your current network supports your business needs. Can it handle high-resolution video conferencing, fast file transfers, online group chats, or even more entertainment needs, such as streaming from Netflix and Prime Video? If you are experiencing issues with any of these functions, don’t fret. Many WiFi systems on the market can give you a range of coverage areas and reliable speeds—your job as a small business owner is to pick one that’s most appropriate for the size of your home or office location.
For speed, you cannot go wrong opting for the highest-grade WiFi system, which would be one built for WiFi 6. This option gives you a significant boost in throughput performance, number of connected devices, data security, and future device interoperability—all critical for the modern, smart business. Also beneficial is that WiFi 6 upgrades can often be done with ease—meaning you don’t need an IT professional for installation—and without breaking the bank. As a result, small businesses ranging from medical or law offices to accounting firms, retail shops, corner restaurants, and more can use WiFi 6 to eliminate the bottlenecks of business communication.
Finding the Right WiFi Equipment for Your Small Business
There are many WiFi 6 options available to small businesses. For example, an existing router in your home or small business can have a limited capacity and range. Adding a standalone access point to an existing network can be an inexpensive and easy tool to improve overall site connection quality and capacity for client devices.
Access points are used to provide wireless connections to wireless devices that are scattered throughout the premises. For those operating as home-based businesses, access points are used to complement the WiFi function of the device provided to you by your Internet service provider, which usually needs stronger WiFi throughput, coverage, security, and reliability.
Products like the new WAX202 and WAX206 access points from NETGEAR support up to three separate wireless sub-networks, each with dedicated names, thus maximizing the performance and security of every connection and user type. For example, a small business owner or work-from-home professional can separate their business/work network traffic from that associated with their children. Or a brick-and-mortar office can have distinct department networks or separate networks for business and guests—all from a single access point.
Don’t Forget About Security
Every small business should be cognizant of data security and privacy—no matter the size of its operation. Despite advancements in antivirus and ransomware solutions, small companies remain a prime target for hackers who aim to infiltrate their systems and hold their data hostage. This can also lead to ransomware payments, which saw a 300% increase this year, according to Chainalysis.
One way to defend against these attacks is understanding whether to buy an access point or a WiFi system (depending on your specific need) that offers at least three separate wireless networks, as described above. Another option would be investing in solutions like the Orbi Pro Mesh system with NETGEAR’s Insight Business VPN. This new offering enables SMBs to extend their corporate networks to branch offices and home offices of employees while ensuring each node on the network is secured and centrally managed. Just get an Orbi Pro Mesh system on each side, configure the VPN once, and simply access the corporate WiFi network ID, and you are securely connected.
No matter where your small business is, there is no doubt it will need problem-free WiFi, but tight budgets can often get in the way of making this critical investment. Increasingly, businesses have prioritized a wireless network that can grow without the price tag that a typical enterprise network demands. Investing in WiFi 6 solutions appropriate to your business size and needs is a way to cost-effectively take advantage of enterprise-grade connectivity and security.
There’s no doubt WiFi 6 is here to stay. In fact, it may be the answer to your small business connectivity needs, both now and in the future.
Doug Cheung is the Senior Product Line Manager, Wireless and Storage at NETGEAR.