What’s the key to a successful business? If you’re like most people, a million different answers may come to mind. Maybe you think of ad campaigns, slogans, stock exchange, and a capable board of directors.
Others might think in smaller terms. For them, it may be relationships with customers and the community that matter or the competence of the manager overseeing his team.
While all of these things are of critical importance, they overlook one of the pivotal factors that help small businesses succeed. That factor is a company network.
Many small businesses use company-wide networks that connect employees’ access to everything. Internet, printers, and shared files are all examples of what a network connects.
That network is critical to workplace efficiency. However, there are many network systems on the market. Selecting the right one can be a challenge, and installing it even more so. That’s why we’re here to help.
We’ve compiled everything you need to know about how different networks function and how to set them up in your office place. Get started today on finding the best network for your needs!
Learn Your Floor Plan
To set up an efficient network, you have to do some planning. The first step in this process is to learn your floor plan well. You must judge how much space you have to work with.
Where will you plug in network cabling? Where are your power outlets? What all equipment will you require (printers, scanners, computers, etc.)?
Moving equipment and network jacks around will be difficult once it’s all plugged in, and even more so if you’ve got furniture or equipment to rearrange.
Planning well and knowing your floor plan can save you a lot of pain in running a business.
Company Network Types
Once you know how much your floor plan can accommodate, it’s time to look for equipment. There are two primary types of networks for you to choose from.
These are wireless networks, which are increasingly popular, and wired networks. There is a third type that blends the two, called a hybrid network.
While there are overlaps between these two in terms of what equipment they require, there are also differences.
The key to your network running smoothly is choosing the network type that will best suit your business. To help with that, we’ve got a little summary of what these networks are and the equipment they require.
A wired network, also known as an Ethernet network, can transfer data from a range of 10-1000 megabytes per second (Mbps). Where it falls in that range depends on the type of cables you use.
The highest performing wired network is the Gigabit Ethernet network, which provides the fastest transfer rate of 1000 Mbps. This translates to a gigabit per second.
There are several pieces of equipment needed to run a wired network. These include a modem, ethernet network adapter, a hub or switch, Ethernet cables, and an Ethernet router.
There are several advantages to wired networks. For one thing, Ethernet cables are fast and highly secure, often more so than wireless systems.
This leads to their second advantage; Ethernet networks are often safer and less prone to hacking than their wireless counterparts.
Ethernet cables are also unaffected by any interference from things like walls. You don’t have to worry about suddenly losing the signal.
However, there are also drawbacks. Ethernet cables are costly and often highly so. They can also get a bit cluttered. Ethernet networks require you to run cords from every device, switch, router, and hub.
If your small business floor plan only has a few outlets, or if your workspace isn’t exactly sprawling, wired networks can make things difficult.
These networks are often the optimal choice for a small or local business.
Wireless networks can transfer data from a range of 10-600 Mbps. They are often great for an online business.
You only need two pieces of equipment for a wireless network. First, you need one wireless network adapter for every device on the network. Second, you need a single wireless router.
The performance of your wireless network depends on the wireless standard that your modem uses. This is as opposed to wired networks, whose performance depends on cable types.
As with wired networks, there are several advantages to wireless systems. Most of these are advantages are counter to the drawbacks of a wired network.
Wireless systems take up less space, make it easy to move devices, and are cheaper to install. However, they also lose some of the advantages of a wired network.
For instance, wireless networks often run at only half the speed of a wired network. Wireless signals can also be interrupted by walls or from an overload of devices using the network.
The Middle Road: Hybrid Networks
As you may be able to guess, a hybrid network combines the functions of wired and wireless networks, offering the best of both worlds.
Usually, a hybrid network provides faster-running desktop devices but also allows for wireless devices like laptops, smartphones, and tablets so you can work on the go and access work files.
Hybrid networks have two primary jobs.
- broadcast a wireless signal
- provide wired access ports
You may be more familiar with referring to these as “Wi-Fi” routers and “LAN” ports.
These networks require three pieces of equipment; a network adaptor (1/device on the network), at least one hybrid router, and Ethernet cables for each device on the network hub.
When selecting a network, it is crucial to consider your network cabling infrastructures. Different cable types are ideal for various company networks and business settings. If you choose to use either a wired network or a hybrid network, the type of cable you use is critical to network performance.
The Final Step: Installation
Different networks are easier to install than others. It’s quite possible that you could set up a wireless company network on your own. However, more intricate networks like wired and hybrids will likely require professional installation.
If you’re wondering whether you should hire professional installation, check out this guide.