Setting up a network for your business: The questions you need to ask

By Shan Balasuriya Posted Date: 2014-05-22

In today's technologically advance world when it comes to both small and large businesses, the internet is the lifeblood of the workplace that is pumped through cables and transmitted wirelessly across the office rooms. If the internet connection or even local internal network goes down for even a few minutes, work at the office would be quick to grind to a complete halt.

Setting Up Your Business Network

When the internet or internal network goes down in a business it can drastically affect work and even generation of new enquiries or sales. For instance when the network is down, checking enquiries coming through a business website would not be possible, email communications will be disrupted and even access to documents or databases within in the internal network will be deprived. Situations like this show how dependant a business is on the internet, as well as how important the infrastructure behind your network connection is.

Nowadays setting up basic network connection isn't that complicated and you don't have to be very tech savvy to do it, with plug-and-play network gear and set up wizards it's a breeze. However, when it comes to bigger networks it can be a little daunting and you may need the support of a network specialist.

Below we discuss some of the important questions to ask when setting up your network:

  • Take into consideration the type of broadband circuit available to you and how far away from the local network exchange you are.
  • What type of network device or 'access point' do you need? - You have a choice between an all in one wireless modem/router or just a simple modem. To obtain the best performance, buy a router that has the features you want and in addition have a separate wireless access point that can be strategically positioned for your network users. If you are in a lightning prone area it can be a good idea to use a cheap modem that can act as a 'sacrifice'. It's better to burn a $60 modem rather than a $400 router because of a lightning power surge.
  • Will your employees need to have remote access to your network or site so they can download files and other data? - This would require our router to support a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or have the option to allow VPN
    pass-through to work with your server.
  • Will you or your employees be using Voice over IP (VoIP)? - Some routers have built in support to set up VoIP lines that can plug into an older phone system that does not natively support VoIP. Another option can be to use separate analogue telephone adapters (ATA's) with your existing telephone system.
  • Ask yourself how large your business really is? There's no point trying to use a domestic grade network device even if it's a small business with about 25 workers. Since enterprise level network devices can be significantly costly, some general consumer level devices will work but its best to do the necessary research and choose the correct device that can handle the job.

Things to consider when choosing a router:

  • Select a router that has enough Ethernet ports to meet your business requirements as well as one that provides network redundancy and allows room for expansion.
  • Since file sizes are continuously getting larger it is a good idea to get a gigabit router that will make sure that file transfers from computer to computer happens more efficiently
  • A router that has dual WAN or backup WAN, if internet connectivity is very important for the smooth running of your business operations then it's a good idea to consider a router that have a second WAN port or support for 3G/4G sim card for load balancing or to act as a failsafe if your primary connection goes down.
  • Purchase your device from a reliable company that supports their equipment with firmware updates as security issues can arise. Also consider purchasing the same brand of devices throughout your network as communication between devices manufactured by the same vendor can be better optimized.