These days, reliable internet access is a must for nearly every kind of business. But it’s not just for employees. Providing reliable Wi-Fi access to people visiting your office isn’t just expected, it’s often necessary. People who need reliable internet access can include:

  • Valued customers waiting in your lobby
  • Vendors and contractors you’re doing business with
  • Interviewees or other professional guests who need internet access for presentations

A lot of businesses simply give their guests access to the same network their employees use. But this is an extremely risky approach.

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For starters, opening up your business’s network to guests consumes valuable bandwidth. This can slow things down for your employees, making it more difficult for them to get their job done. Worse still, opening your private network up to others can expose your business to malware and other security risks. Lastly, any illegal activities your guests get up to on your network can open up your business to an investigation.

For these reasons, it’s best to take a careful approach when providing Wi-Fi access to guests at your place of business. While it takes a little more planning and configuration, doing so ensures you mitigate any risks while still providing a great connection to your valued customers and other guests.

Here are five best practices every business should follow when providing Wi-Fi access to guests and visitors.

Keep Guest Networks Separate

There are very few circumstances where a guest will need access to the resources on your business network. As such, the first line of defense when creating a guest Wi-Fi network is to separate it from your main network.

For this reason, many businesses use a second wireless network router for guest internet. Another strategy is to create a virtual network under a subnet outside the main network. Both approaches ensure that people using the guest network don’t have access to vital business resources.

Keep in mind that while separating your networks keeps your company information secure, it won’t do anything in terms of performance. Your connection still has limited bandwidth, and ensuring that bandwidth goes to your mission-critical applications is equally important.

Develop and Implement a Guest Access Policy

Providing your guests with internet access is all well and good, but making sure you have the necessary bandwidth to conduct business is your priority. This is why it’s important to implement a guest access policy that limits speeds for your guest Wi-Fi.

But performance isn’t the only consideration. A guest access policy also determines what kind of websites and protocols your guests have access to. Preventing them from accessing illegal websites or downloading questionable content is a wise move. Even with a separate Wi-Fi network, it’s better to be safe than sorry in terms of what your visitors can access from your business’s internet connection.

Nearly every Wi-Fi router has firewall settings for prohibiting certain websites and traffic and limiting bandwidth based on usage. By developing and implementing a guest access policy, you can ensure the sites your guests access and the bandwidth they use won’t impact your business in any way.

Proper Access Point Location

For larger businesses, proper placement of access points should be a consideration. If your guests never go beyond your lobby, for example, there’s no need to broadcast your guest Wi-Fi network across your warehouse. Having a focused network helps prevent malicious parties from attempting to access it from areas you can’t monitor.

Conversely, make sure you put your hardware in a location that provides a good signal for your visitors. And be mindful of any interference from other equipment or obstacles. Poorly placed Wi-Fi equipment can result in frustration for your guests, leading to a bad experience with your business.

Make Guest Wi-Fi Easy to Use

In terms of good and bad experiences, it’s also important to ensure your guest network is easy to access and use. Security is no doubt important when you’re implementing a guest Wi-Fi network, but your visitors’ experience is equally so.

Consider a guest who has problems connecting. They may engage one of your employees for assistance, which can impact that person’s productivity. What’s worse, the employee may end up giving guests access to the private Wi-Fi network, circumventing your previous security efforts.

For this reason, it’s best to use a solution that allows for easy access to your guest network. Many solutions provide a way for users to log into a guest network independently without asking someone else for credentials. It’s better to make sure your guest wireless network is easy to use and reliable from the onset.

Secure Your Equipment

Separating your guest wireless network from your main network and making sure it’s easy for your visitors to access and use goes a long way toward providing a safe and reliable experience. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about basic security principles when setting things up.

When setting up your guest wireless access point, be sure to change the default access ports and passwords on your router. This prevents any bad actors from gaining administrative access to your network and causing any harm.

Additionally, be sure to change the default SSID on your router to one that reflects your business. Keeping your business safe is a priority, but so is keeping your guests safe. Your visitors should be able to easily recognize and connect to your network and not a rogue access point created by a malicious party.

Hand holding smartphone with wi-fi connection on the screen in cafe

Safe Guest Wi-Fi Is Good Business

Keep these guest Wi-Fi best practices in mind when implementing your wireless network. Not only will they help protect your business and ensure the optimal functioning of your network, they’ll provide your guests with a great experience, too.

If you’re looking for a reliable partner to help implement and manage your wireless network, EIRE Systems can help. Our courteous professionals, experienced in a full range of IT services, are ready to help you get the most from your technology. Get in touch with us today to find out how.