Updated: Apr 9
By: Cassie Phillips (Secure Thoughts)
Mobile technology has presented us with a challenge very different from those faced in the past. We have endless possibilities and options, but few are available without an internet connection. Mobile connections like those offered by 3G and 4G are frequently unreliable, limited by data restrictions and cost money for additional devices beyond smartphones.
This has led most of us to seek an alternative in the form of WiFi. The internet is rife with jokes about civilization only existing in places with WiFi available. While the WiFi options we rely on may get the job done, we are now faced with a different question: is there a thing as too much WiFi?
The Not So Silly Question
On its face, more WiFi automatically sounds like a better thing. Faster, freer, more reliable connections for our mobile devices seem like they would universally benefit the modern device user. However, adding infinite amounts of WiFi connections actually comes with certain limitations.
For example, WiFi that is set up in a location that limits its signal strength is the same as not really having WiFi at all. Without proper planning, WiFi falls flat on several fronts. If a standard router is used in a building whose materials are too thick or resistant to wireless signals, effectiveness is limited. This can be annoying for users as they’ll experience slow and unreliable signal.
The same goes when you have too many WiFi signals in the same small space. Apartments are notorious for this problem because concurrent signals can cause drops in service (WiFi noise). The airwaves literally become polluted with too many different signals and cause problems for tenants living in the same building and trying to access the internet through different connection points.
A single house can also experience problems with multiple WiFi signals when someone has setup access points at each floor. These access points all channel back to the same internet connection, but because most privately set up networks don’t communicate, they end up with devices carrying lingering signals from one access point to the next, resulting in a decrease in signal strength and reliability.
This is an example where there is more WiFi than before, yet no increase in service due to poor setup.
WiFi Security Woes
Clamoring for WiFi in every corner of the business has laid the foundation for another problem: lack of security. A signal that anyone can connect to (unsecured WiFi) can easily be broken by hackers who use it to hijack people’s data. They can intercept and alter data and even transmit malware over unsecured networks.
There is a solution to the dangers of unsecured WiFi called Virtual Private Network. A VPN uses software to connect the user’s device to a remote server before connecting to the rest of the internet, hiding the customer’s IP address and encrypting their traffic. This helps prevent data theft and removes most of the problems associated with public WiFi connections. Although there’s an easy fix to unsecured WiFi, what about problems associated with connectivity, reliability and speed?
Professionally Managed WiFi
There’s nothing worse than experiencing WiFi problems and needing to call the “tech guy” or a younger member of the family to come fix things. It makes your business look inept and highlights the need for a serious IT person on staff. However, hiring an additional staff member just to hang around and fix problems as they crop up is a waste of resources too.
Thankfully there are companies like Iserv that specialize in Managed WiFi Solutions, providing an easier, more secure WiFi environment for both employees and customers. Your connection is managed over a cloud-based network so that no one at the business needs to lift a finger.
Managed WiFi Solutions is also available for private residences. WiFi can be especially challenging in two and three story houses. Managed WiFi experts will set up professional grade WiFi, which is stronger in signal and reliability than the consumer-grade products you will find at BestBuy or Amazon. The primary tradeoff is cost, but the increase in quality is undeniable.
Plan for the Future
No matter your current relationship with WiFi, expect things to stay stagnant or get worse without some form of planning on your part. Businesses are adding WiFi to serve and attract customers and private homeowners are installing WiFi to connect to applications in their house.
So, in order to answer the initial inquiry “Can there be too much WiFi?” we must rephrase the question. It’s not about how much WiFi there is, but about how you manage it. If you have WiFi or plan to install it, consider protecting your devices and working with a Managed WiFi Solutions provider.