Why Your Organization Should Have a Guest Wi-Fi Network

Black and white photo of a storefront with a sign in the window that says "we have free WiFi" and a Chinese lucky cat statue beside it

Businesses that offer a guest Wi-Fi network to their clients are providing a small, value-added service that is quickly becoming the business standard.  Imagine walking into an establishment and having some time to pass. You’re probably going to pull out your phone and head to social media, or check your emails. Using the business’ guest Wi-Fi network is a nice bonus, especially if it’s fast.

Now, imagine walking into your own workplace and having no Wi-Fi connection, or having ongoing problems with a poor connection. How much work can you do with no Internet?

 

Employees and guests expect reliable Wi-Fi

A good Wi-Fi connection is fast and reliable. You definitely don’t want slow, sluggish Wi-Fi, especially if your customers and corporate business partners are depending on it while they visit your office. (How embarrassing would THAT be!)

Here are some situations that negatively impact Wi-Fi speed and reliability:

  • There are interferences with nearby networks.
  • You are using old, outdated Wi-Fi equipment. 
  • There are issues with your access points that require them to be rebooted every week.
  • There are blocking materials within your office building.
  • You have a slow Internet connection meaning that the plan you have simply doesn’t meet your business’ needs.

While all are important, the last point is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage a guest Wi-Fi network: the experience will be better for everyone using the network.

 

Benefits of a Guest Wi-Fi network

Woman sitting down at a café using the guest Wi-Fi network. She is using her Apple Macbook laptop with a sandwich and a coffee next to her laptop

Most places of business offer guests a Wi-Fi network, including restaurants, doctors’ offices, restaurants and even retail stores. Here are some of the benefits of doing so.

Security

One of the biggest benefits of offering a guest Wi-Fi network this is that it helps to protect your internal business network. It gives organizations the ability to control who has access to things like your company’s computers, servers and printers.

A guest network also allows you to keep security passwords to a limited number of people. For example, if you didn’t have a separate guest network, a guest might connect to your network and could accidentally download a malicious program. Or, what if they connected an already infected phone or laptop? Malware is able to spread over a local network, so if an infected device is connected to your Wi-Fi, it will try to contain everything in its range.

Bandwidth usage and restrictions

Besides the security benefits, adding a guest Wi-Fi network allows for an additional level of control over your network’s usage. You can prioritize your business activities so that staff get the bandwidth they need to work (for example, the Zoom meeting with a client gets priority over a guest browsing YouTube).

Continue to offer guests access to the sites and applications they would want to use with an appropriate speed, but apply limitations to ensure you are not affecting your employee’s bandwidth. It is important to recognize that what your employees are doing on the Wi-Fi network will be very different than what your guests will be doing. Therefore, be proactive and smart about how you set up your networks.

 

Things to consider when offering a guest Wi-Fi network

Have enough bandwidth to support your guest network.  To estimate this, you must first understand what type of browsing your customers will be doing while using the network. Another thing to consider is the number of devices the network will be supporting. People will often connect to the Wi-Fi network with their mobile device, and perhaps also with their laptop. This drastically increases the amount of devices that your network needs to support. 

Make sure you implement some type of web filtering.  When implementing Wi-Fi networks, if the network isn’t protected by content filtering you are putting your business at risk. As a company, you are responsible for any websites that are accessed through your Internet connection. As such, make sure to implement some type of web filtering on your Guest Wi-Fi to prevent guests from accessing illegal websites, pornographic material, etc.

Make it a good customer experience.  It’s frustrating to use someone’s Wi-Fi and either have problems connecting to the network or it is slow throughout the process. Poorly planning your guest network can certainly have an impact on the customer experience and your guest’s perception of your business.

Get as many access points as you need.  A wireless access point is what allows your device to connect to the wired network. You will have a stronger Wi-Fi connection if you use separate access points for your business network and your guest Wi-Fi network. Doing this can also protect your networks from attacks. These access points should be positioned properly within the office space for optimal service.

Best Practices Recap

  • Do a proper Wi-Fi plan to install the correct number of wireless access points (and in the right spots) for reliable Wi-Fi coverage for your employees and guests.
  • Use a Next Generation Firewall to protect your network including your Guest Wi-Fi.
  • Implement a Web Content Filtering solution to prevent guests from accessing bad sites.
  • Limit bandwidth and implement Quality of Service so that the Guest Wi-Fi network does not interfere with your work.
  • Promote the Guest Wi-Fi as a value-add to your clients and customers.
  • Work with an IT provider who specializes in Wireless Design. We can help!

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