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6 mistakes to avoid when setting up your small business wireless network

Paul Mah | Sept. 4, 2013
Sidestep these pitfalls for successful wireless workplace.

Expecting to get the speeds shown on the box
It's easy to be seduced by the 300Mbps or 450Mbps speeds 802.11n wireless routers promise. However, these are theoretical and don't account for real-world conditions or the substantial protocol overheads inherent to wireless networks.

In our review of the Asus RT-N66U router, for example, the router offered a performance of just 226Mbps at 9 feet, dropping to 43.1Mbps at 65 feet. What's more, the figures are applicable only for a single client—this bandwidth would be divided among any additional devices operating on the same frequency band. If you need to routinely transfer large files across your local network, consider setting up a wired Gigabit network.

Using your router's default channel
When you need to get your network up and running quickly, it's tempting to start using your router without bothering to change the default channel. But unless you live far from civilization, it's likely this channel is already in use by a neighbor, which can cause interference that degrades your wireless performance.

To avoid this, change the channel on your device when you set it up. It's not difficult as there are only three non-overlapping channels: 1, 6, and 11. Of course, locations that are swamped with multiple Wi-Fi networks may need to experiment with overlapping channels for the best results. Some wireless access points detect nearby Wi-Fi networks and offer information about the channels they use as well as their signal strengths, which helps tremendously.

Ignoring the 5GHz band
If your router offers simultaneous dual band, make sure your 5GHz radio is enabled. This allows laptops that support 5GHz to be offloaded onto this less-cluttered band, freeing up the 2.4GHz band for other devices such as smartphones and tablets. Also, the 5GHz band's shorter range allows for the use of additional APs in high-density deployments with less risk of interference.


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