If you offer — or plan on offering — free WiFi to your guests, congratulations on your smart business move. Recent studies prove a return on investment for small businesses that offer complimentary WiFi to their guests. Offering free WiFi can help increase certain goals that many businesses strive for such as longer guest visits, increased foot traffic, and even increased sales.
With all the potential benefits that come from offering guest WiFi, it’s important that your WiFi signal is running at optimal levels. If you’re uncertain whether your guest WiFi is operating efficiently or if you’re bringing WiFi into your establishment for the first time, then you’ll want to learn how to set up your WiFi landscape.
WiFi and Hotspots: What are They?
WiFi, in its simplest term, is wireless internet. A WiFi signal allows you to connect a device to the internet without an ethernet capable. WiFi signals are created from the use of radio waves similar to other wireless technology (radio broadcasting, mobile phones, cable television, etc.) These radio waves are produced from the device commonly known as a router.
A WiFi signal is created from a router with a limited reach. This invisible boundary created from a WiFi signal is usually called the “hotspot.” As long as a WiFi user is within the area of the hotspot, in theory, they’ll have access to the internet.
Setting up Your Landscape
Whether you already have a hotspot set up at your business or have plans to implement free WiFi, it’s important to understand what can hurt your WiFi signal or help improve it. To get the best results for your guest WiFi, here are three smart aspects to consider when setting up your WiFi landscape.
Knowing what hardware to use is the best place to start when looking to strengthen a WiFi signal. WiFi routers are constantly being improved, so if you’ve been using guest WiFi for a fair amount of time, you might be in need of an upgrade. There’s a wide variety of commercial-grade hardware to choose from, so it’s important you do your research to find the new router that fits your WiFi needs.
Smart Tip: When selecting your hardware, make sure you understand the different gigahertz (GHz) settings for a router and what that means for you. WiFi routers run either at a 2.4GHz or 5GHz setting, or even both, depending on the model. The difference between 2.4GHz routers and 5Ghz routers is this: 2.4GHz routers will have a higher range but lower bandwidth compared to a 5GHz. This means the WiFi signal from 2.4GHz will reacher father than 5GHz, but the default upload and download speeds are faster on 5GHz.
It’s worth noting that certain older models of smartphones, computers, and laptops aren’t capable of connecting to a hotspot that’s generated from a 5GHz router. So if you’re looking at the 5GHz route, choose hardware that runs 2.4GHz as well so you don’t alienate guests who aren’t up to date with their technology.
Physical Signal Blockers
Basically, all types of building materials can be a deterrent to a WiFi signal (wood, brick, plastic, etc.) Concrete and metal are the two biggest enemies to a strong WiFi signal due to their common use in construction. If your router is currently surrounded by walls, pillars, mirrors, or even plants, you’re severely limiting the reach of your hotspot and connection strength. To provide the best reach as possible for your WiFi signal, survey your property and look to find a more open spot for your router.
Smart Tip: If you’re unsure about your signal strength and how much coverage your WiFi is providing to your property, here’s how to find out. There are plenty of websites and apps out there that can run a diagnosis on your WiFi signal. These companies provide you insights such as upload/download speeds and even show a visual heat map of your hotspot so you can see what areas of your property may be without a WiFi signal.
Double Smart Tip: If your property doesn’t have enough open space for a reliable signal, or if one router just isn’t enough to cover your large property, you’ll want to look at an open mesh WiFi system. An open mesh network uses multiple WiFi devices that work in conjunction with your main router to create a reliable and large hotspot boundary. Open mesh networks are becoming a popular tool for businesses of all sizes due to their affordability and ability to provide a reliable and consistent WiFi network.
Unwanted WiFi Users
Knowing just far or how short your WiFi signal reaches is important for protecting yourself from users that don’t belong on your WiFi. This is especially true if you plan to offer an open and unsecured network to your guests, which we highly recommended you don’t. If you want to match your hotspot boundary to the physical boundaries of your store, you’ll want to use a WiFi diagnostic tools to get a visual heat map of your hotspot. From there you can start placing your router in different spots until you match the desired fit of your hotspot boundary to physical boundary.
Smart Tip: Check the upload and download speeds of your hotspot so you’re not providing too much or too little bandwidth to your WiFi users. Not sure how much speed you need to be offering your WiFi guests? There are websites that can show what your upload/download speeds need to be based on the size of your business, the average amount of guests a day and other factors.
Are you about to start setting up guest WiFi for your business? We’re here to help! Our Smart WiFi platform allows you to provide a password-free WiFi to your guests while still keeping users safe and secure. Block unwanted users with ease by using our guest profile feature. Need to change the bandwidth of your hotspot? Our platform configures to your already existing WiFi service so you can easily adjust your upload and download speeds.