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I've been tasked with improving the wireless network at my office / co-working space. I'm not particularly experienced with business network infrastructure, but I'm more experienced than probably all of the other people here and have volunteered to figure it out.

Our main issue is that our wifi network is lacking. Typically we have around 30 wifi devices in the office at a time, half of which are phones and half of which are laptops, but sometimes it can go as high as 60 - 80 devices. For example, we were a jam site for the last global game jam and had 40 laptops vying for wifi bandwidth, and some untold number of mobile devices.

Most of these laptops are running software like Dropbox or Google Drive, which sucks up a lot of bandwidth. Occasionally people may be streaming video and audio. We also regularly do video conference calls over wifi, and sometimes they don't perform well, which is the biggest thorn in people's sides.

We have the budget to get ourselves decent networking hardware, but I'm not sure what will fulfill our needs given the above. I'm planning on having our modem, router, switches, and wireless AP be separate devices since that generally seems to be recommend here.

Past that, I'm not sure how to move forward! In particular, I'm not sure how to choose a router, wireless AP / router, or both that will work for us. Other questions I'm looking for help on include but are not limited to:

  • Will QoS help us prioritize important traffic like video calls and web traffic over bandwidth suckers like Dropbox or BitTorrent? If so, should QoS happen at the router, the wireless AP, or both?

  • Do we actually want the wireless AP to be a separate piece of hardware from the router?

  • Could we get a consumer level wifi router and put it in bridge mode? Or is it better to get a business level access point?

  • Should we just hire someone else to handle this?

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

closed as off-topic by joeqwerty, Ward, Jenny D, kubanczyk, BaronSamedi1958 Mar 29 '18 at 13:16

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  • The smart solution would be to engage a local company with specific expertise in this area. The last thing you probably want is to spend time and money on a solution that doesn't work. There's no fault or fail in hiring people to do a job you don't know. I don't fix my car myself, I take it to a mechanic because he knows what he's doing. – joeqwerty Mar 21 '18 at 19:22
  • @joeqwerty You very well may be right, and in fact I meant to ask if we should just hire someone local. I've edited my original post to include that question. While I'm curious what other people have to say, you might consider posting that as an answer since if others recommend it, I don't get many other answers, or I end up feeling like I'm in over my head, I may choose it as my accepted answer. – GuyGizmo Mar 21 '18 at 19:28
  • This is a very important, and well-thought out question. However, you may find it will not be well received here, simply because it is far too broad (the term shopping list comes to mind). If you could break this down into smaller, more specific questions, that would be much better. – JonathanDavidArndt Mar 21 '18 at 19:34
  • @JonArndt I'd like to do that, and I was afraid it might not be well received. And as of writing this comment I already have a -2 score. But honestly I don't really know where to start -- too many of my questions have overlapping concerns. And I tried to word things so that I was asking about the how and why, and not so much about what specifically should I buy. – GuyGizmo Mar 21 '18 at 19:41
  • You're doing the right thing. And there are some very broad questions that are very well received. – JonathanDavidArndt Mar 21 '18 at 20:08
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The smart solution would be to engage a local company with specific expertise in this area. The last thing you probably want is to spend time and money on a solution that doesn't work. There's no fault or failure in hiring people to do a job you don't know.

This would also give you the opportunity to potentially learn some invaluable information and skills, so it's a growth opportunity for you as well.

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