Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi; it’s all you hear about nowadays. Where is it? How fast is it; and where can we get it on the move? Wi-Fi networks have become, to the roaming human being, what the outside light has long been to moths; where there is free Wi-Fi, there will be people hovering around, immersed in their digital lives, and some no doubt looking to see where the next nearest portal of productivity or frivolity may lie.
So, what if you’re a business that attracts visitors and customers? What if they need to connect, along with anybody else seeking out their next Wi-Fi hit? Well, you should seriously consider a ‘guest’ Wi-Fi network, and here’s why.
Allowing external parties and individuals to use the Wi-Fi network you also use for your own business can throw up some security issues that a guest network would largely eradicate. We’ve all heard the scare-stories of how easy it is for somebody with access to a Wi-Fi network to roam and hack other devices on a network. To this day, banks and other data sensitive organisations urge their customers to avoid using shared networks for anything other than surfing the web.
This is because sensitive data can indeed be accessed by nefarious means on shared networks and you don’t want your business and financial data becoming open to the same risks. A guest network that none of the company computers, printers or devices are attached to would avoid this.
A guest network doesn’t have to be hidden away with the SSID and password scrawled in stone and hidden in a safe that only two people know the combination to. A guest Wi-Fi network can be conveniently displayed and open to anybody who wishes to use it. Some businesses – particularly hotels and public houses – require a visitor or customer to ask at the bar or reception for the details, but a guest network’s details could equally be available on menus or mounted on the wall. If it’s convenience and ease of use at the heart of acquiring a guest network, then why not?
Another important point with regards to a guest network is the ease by which a business can control content and bandwidth use. There is going to be a cost involved with having a separate Wi-Fi network on the premises, so it makes sense to budget for this and perhaps introduce limits on how much data a single device can use. This will deter people using the network instead of their own and from downloading large amounts of data such as movies using the guest Wi-Fi.
Most users will only need to access internet pages and email whilst perhaps exchanging documents. None of these uses are particularly data intensive so a cap on bandwidth may not even be noticed by most individuals.
One last benefit from having a separate network for guests is that it can be limited in terms of content. Where content limitations and heavy spam control can be a hindrance for a business’s own internet use, there are no such problems associated with a guest network. This is partly because expectations are lower, as most users would also not expect to use a guest network for anything other than general use, and also because most users will be on the move with most usage limited to corporate sites, web-based email and the gathering of local information.
It’s not hugely expensive or particularly difficult to set up and use a ‘guest’ W-Fi network, and most business providers offer products to suit small and large businesses alike. In terms of ease of use and security, it’s well worth considering, particularly if you have a number of frequent visitors who will require Wi-Fi access.