9 tips for speeding up your business Wi-Fi

Is your company's lethargic Wi-Fi making users scream? Try these techniques for a zippier network.

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The days are long past when a fast office Wi-Fi connection was a nice-to-have. These days it's essential for your business to provide clients and employees alike with a speedy, reliable wireless network.

Proper site surveying and maintenance are crucial for wireless networks, and especially so for networks with heavy traffic, such as Wi-Fi hotspots at public venues. The same is true when speed is vital, as when streaming video or voice over Wi-Fi.

Interference, congestion, improper security settings and lack of maintenance are just a few factors that can negatively affect Wi-Fi performance. Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use to combat these issues.

But before I go into specifics, a bit of background. Wi-Fi is all about airtime: the amount of time a wireless device or access point (AP) is transmitting. Airtime is important because usually only one device can transmit at a time on a given channel. The wireless devices and APs have to share the airwaves and take turns talking. The slower the transmission speed, the more airtime a device takes up and the less time available for other devices.

True, multiuser MIMO now makes it possible for an AP to simultaneously transmit to multiple wireless devices on the same channel. However, this technology is just emerging, and it will take some time before many devices support it, especially business and enterprise-class APs.

Note that if your workplace has areas that are lacking Wi-Fi coverage altogether, adding or moving existing wireless APs around is likely the best place to start. However, if there aren't major holes in coverage and the chief concern is slow speeds, I suggest using the techniques in this story before moving or adding APs.

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