A client came to us with a common problem, they were getting spotty WiFi signal throughout their hotel and needed a solution. Guests were complaining that after checking in, they would go to their room and then realize that there was no WiFi signal. Aside from complaining, they would wind up sitting in the main office to use the WiFi. Kind of defeats the purpose of staying at a beach hotel.
We see this a lot when clients use off the shelf wireless routers or wireless access points and try and create a WiFi network throughout their facility. Yes, using that cheap equipment will create a basic wireless network for your office or business, but there is no way to guarantee a strong signal in every spot that will need it or to easily expand upon your network in the future. Here are some reasons not to use off the shelf, home grade wireless products:
- Multiple wireless devices can't communicate directly with each other. So if you walk from one part of the building to another, you will disconnect from one access point and you will then need to make a new connection to the access point that you are now closer to.
- Each access point could have a different SSID (Network Name) or passcode. This could get messy if they don't match and your users don't have the correct information.
- Each device will have to be managed individually, not centrally. Since there is no central program that you can use to manage your multiple off the shelf wireless access points, you will have to log into each device seperately to make any changes or to troubleshoot.
- Security, you have no visibility into who is connecting to your WiFi and how much bandwidth they are hogging.
- Security again! If there is someone who is on your wifi that you don't want on there, there is no easy way to kick them off.
So what we've starting implementing to solve these issues is a wireless product called UniFi by Ubiquiti Networks. It is a solution of entrerprise grade indoor/outdoor wireless products without the enterprise price tag! And they are centrally managed from from a cloud based wireless controller. The controller allows you to:
- Centrally manage all your access points in one location.
- Create one wireless network that all your access points are grouped in
- See who is using the WiFi at any given time and you have the ability to block or disconnect users.
- Users can roam from one access point to another without reconnecting to the wifi and re-entering in a password.
- You can create a guest network, like at an airport, where you can monetize access to your WiFi.
- You can easily expand coverage to areas that have dead-spots by inserting another inexpensive plug-and-play access point into the network.