Setting up a network at home is very different from setting one up for your business. You need more advanced business router features for your business network because there’s more at stake – staff needs uninterrupted internet access to keep working, customers need you online so that you can keep transacting, and your data needs extra security because it’s valuable. And that’s just for starters.
For small to medium-sized businesses, the Wi-Fi router is the heart and soul of the network, so it’s here that business owners need to focus. Getting the right router for the job of keeping your network running starts with knowing what you need from it in order for it to perform properly.
To help current and future business owners wrap their heads around this, we’ve put this handy guide together that outlines what you should be looking for when shopping for a new router for your business.
Strong Wireless Security
Having WiFi is non-negotiable for any business thanks to the widespread use of laptops and smartphones by staff, as well as the increased adoption of wireless security cameras.
Securing those wireless networks, then, should be a top priority because nobody wants unauthorised devices or users on their network. This is typically handled by encrypting the connection, and only allowing devices onto the network that support the encryption protocols in use.
The latest wireless security protocol is WPA3, and ideally, this is what your business router should support. It’s more secure than its predecessor, WPA2, because its encryption is stronger thanks to Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), a secure “key establishment protocol”.
By making the “handshake” process between devices and the router more complex, it becomes difficult – if not impossible – for unauthorised devices to connect.
The only catch with WPA3 is that all wireless devices that want to join the network must also support it, so maybe consult with your IT people first before pulling the trigger on a router that uses it.
Having only one way to connect to the internet is like putting all your eggs into one basket. This is why a business-grade router should have two WAN ports to hook up a backup connection, like an LTE router if your primary connection is fibre, just in case your primary connection fails for some reason.
As an aside, it should go without saying that your router should also have some kind of battery backup as well, because even though loadshedding is easing, it’s still not entirely gone, and it’s important that businesses always remain connected to the internet.
Configurable Quality of Service options
Quality of Service (QoS) is a feature designed for most routers that lets users choose which type of network traffic the router should prioritise. Enabling it provides a performance boost to the most important types of network traffic, and a slight decrease in the performance of others.
For example, for a business whose staff do a lot of conference calls or Zoom meetings, or who make calls using Voice over IP solutions, prioritising telecommunication traffic means stable online meetings and uninterrupted calls, even when the network is busy.
Wi-Fi coverage can be spotty, depending on the physical layout of the business premises it covers. That means dead spots, where connectivity is not strong enough, leading to disconnections and unreliable Wi-Fi performance in those locations.
A way to avoid this altogether is to purchase a mesh router, which provides multiple access points for your Wi-Fi network and covers a much wider area with a more reliable Wi-Fi signal.
And if it doesn’t offer mesh support, then your business router should at least support dual-band mode, meaning it can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless bands to cover your premises with a WiFi signal that’s resistant to interference.
A great way to keep your network secure while still allowing contractors and other guests to use it is to get a router that supports guest access.
A guest network will have its own SSID and exists outside of the rest of your network so that guest users can’t access any more of your infrastructure than that which allows them access to the internet.
The ability to create separate networks (VLANs)
Having the ability to create separate networks for different departments has a number of business benefits.
It segments traffic to keep performance at a decent level, it ensures the security of sensitive data by keeping that data limited to specific networks, and it can keep specific devices (like CCTV cameras) limited to their own network so that if they are breached, the attackers don’t gain access to anything important.
Tick these boxes and be safe
If you can get yourself a router with some or all of these features, you’re well on your way to building a business network that’s resistant to attacks, that covers a wide area with high-performance WiFi, and which will keep your sensitive data safe.