set up a wi-fi network

Set up a Wi-Fi network

by Angus Jones

Before you find someone to help you set up a Wi-Fi network, you will be pleased to know that the process is extremely easy.  In this guide, we will look at the possibilities and help you decide what to buy and how to set it up to ensure the best productivity.

Wi-Fi is a wireless sharing technology that allows devices such as computers (laptops and desktops), smartphones and other equipment (printers and video cameras) to connect to the Internet.

WHY should I have a Wi-Fi network?

Suppose you are transferring large amounts of data, or you need a mission-critical connection to the internet. In that case, you should not have a Wi-Fi connection, you should instead use a cable connection to your modem or Wi-Fi router. An ethernet cable will allow faster transfer speeds and a more reliable connection.

However, if you want to seamlessly move to different places in your home or office without being tied to cables, Wi-Fi is a must.  Wi-Fi encourages collaboration but, most importantly, simplicity rather than having to do expensive hardware and cabling installs.

If you run a business where your guest might benefit from Wi-Fi, it is also simple to provide them with access to the internet, but not access your private computer resources and files.

WHAT do I need to set up a Wi-Fi network?

Small Business Answers have a separate article on setting up a computer network covering all the higher-level information you need to understand.

Steps to set up a Wi-Fi network:
  1. You will need to sign up for an Internet plan where you should consider what speed and capacity will suit your needs
  2. Buy a wireless router. A wireless router is a device that does two key functions. The router function allows a single internet connection provided by a modem (device to connect you to the internet) to be distributed across many devices.  It is very simplistically like a single power point and adding a power board – you can now plug more things in. The wireless function allows a radio connection of devices without any cables, thus wireless. The connected device like a Notebook will, of course, need its own power source like a battery.
  3. Connect your wireless router to your modem with the supplied ethernet cable.
  4. Set up your wireless router. See the next section for more details.
  5. Connect your devices with a password to your router (more details below). Password protection does two things. First, it stops just anyone connecting to your network, like neighbours or some random person using your network to download movies. Secondly, it prevents others from getting unauthorised access to your network, which might allow them access to private information. More details on internet security can be found in this guide.
  6. Decide who else will have access and under any restrictions.

Which wireless router should I buy?

Our sister site www.Gadgetguy.com.au has reviews on various models to help you decide. Your friendly office supply or consumer electronics store will also have some good advice.

There are some different types you need to understand first:
  • 4G/5G router – different from others as it uses the mobile phone network to access the internet. No broadband connection required, and it will work anywhere there is mobile phone coverage.  Internet access will, however, be more expensive.
  • Standard Wireless router – most common and economical solution.
  • Wi-Fi mesh router – provides multiple units that enable a much greater coverage area in your place of work with a seamless transfer from one mesh unit to the next. This means a more reliable internet connection for the user.
  • Business access points and small business solutions – Specific products designed for larger offices or to give Wi-Fi access to customers.  There is a simple unit from Netgear called an Orbi Pro. Beyond this, we suggest you seek professional advice.

A wireless router may have been provided to you by your internet provider.  These routers are generally the most basic models and may not work as well as a product bought for the purpose.  It may lack coverage, capacity (number of connected devices) and speed of transfer.

HOW do I set up a wireless router?

Before you break into a sweat, a simple setup will require you to

Configure a Wi-Fi Router
  1. Select a central location for the router
  2. Connect the supplied ethernet cable from your router to the internet modem
  3. Connect to a power point and turn it on if it has a switch
  4. Look on the bottom/back of the unit for a network name (SSID) and password.  The preconfigured name and password will be unique to your router
  5. On your PC or phone, select WI-FI and look for a match to your new router’s network name. Select and add the password
  6. You are now connected
Advanced setup:

Your router will come with instructions that will allow you to make more customisation to your router settings. These will include more complicated setups like a mesh router and directions on downloading an app to your smartphone to assist with the installation and administration process. You will be able to change your network name and password, alter security restrictions or limitations to groups or individuals and the ability to set up a guest network.

A guest network is a key feature you should enable on your router.  This means any visitors to your business can benefit from access to the internet but not have access to your printers, shared file systems, POS units etc. Within the router setup menu, which can be reached by either the provided app or by entering a sequence of numbers (IP address) into your connected internet browser (instructions in the router box).  Once connected, select the Wi-Fi or wireless section and enable a guest network.  Here you can give the separate network a name and password, which you can then provide to your customers.

HINTS

If you do need additional support, see our guide to IT support.

A standard wireless routers coverage can be increased using a Wi-Fi extender which increases the distance covered from the router but by using a different Wi-Fi network name.  This is not as simple as a mesh solution but a cheaper way of extending coverage. See our guide on how to improve your Wi-Fi

SUMMARY – Set up a Wi-Fi network

A wireless router will enable you to wirelessly connect your devices to the internet like a PC.  This simple device removes the need for cabling and allows mobility within your business premise.  A router may be supplied by your internet provider. Still, a higher quality unity easily available from a local retailer is more likely to provide a more productive result.  Simple setup can be done in minutes by a novice with more advanced configurations allowing you greater security and control as well as allowing you to set up a 2nd network for visitors, excluding them any access to your private resources.

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