When working at a tech company with developers and all, reliable internet connectivity is essential for productivity. And with an increasing number of devices accessing the internet at the company, it was important to have internet access points (both wired and wireless) to ensure that every employee has access to the internet.
Planning the Network
Before I set up the network, I had to plan the network topology. This was important and will help me determine the type of equipment I will need and how to lay out the cables. I decided to go with the most common for small businesses, which is a star topology. In a star topology, all of the devices on the network are connected to a central switch or router.
Once the plan was set, I started gathering the necessary equipment for the setup. List of equipment I used:
- Unmanaged TP-link (TL-SF1016D) 16-port switch
- 6 Wireless access points (5 TP-Link TL-MR3420 and 1 Ubiquiti Unifi Ap Lr 802.11n)
- Cat 6 Ethernet cables
- Cable terminators
- Internet Service Provider: We chose FiberOne Broadband and opted for their dedicated business plan, which is way cheaper than IPNX but still maintains good customer service and excellent internet plans.
Setting Up the Wired Network
To set up the wired network, I ran a connection from each workstation and access point to the switch using an Ethernet cable and also used a cable tester to make sure that the cables were working properly.
Setting Up the Wireless Network
To set up the wireless network, I connected the wireless access points (APs) to the switch via Ethernet cables. These APs will broadcast a wireless signal to mostly mobile devices and eliminate network dead spots. I configured the SSID (network name) and password for the wireless network. I also configure the network and security settings for the wireless network.
Difficulties Faced During The Process
While designing the plan, I faced several challenges, which include:
- The workplace layout was complex; determining the ideal placement of access points was challenging due to the varied layout of the workplace. I had to consider factors such as office partitions, walls, and potential interference from other electronic devices to ensure optimal signal coverage throughout the space.
- The organization’s budget was limited, requiring me to carefully balance cost and performance when selecting hardware solutions.
- Configuring the network settings proved to be a complex task, requiring careful attention to detail and troubleshooting to resolve compatibility issues.
- During the transition to the new network, there were instances where users experienced temporary connectivity issues or slower speeds. Managing user expectations and providing clear communication was crucial to maintaining overall satisfaction and minimizing disruption to their workflow.
Despite these challenges, I successfully implemented a seamless access point network that significantly improved connectivity and productivity across the workplace. The process required careful planning, meticulous execution, and ongoing maintenance, but the positive impact on the organization made it a worthwhile endeavor.
Future-Proofing the Network
To future-proof the network for 10GB of internet, I used Cat6 Ethernet cables (Cat 6a were more expensive). These cables are rated for 10GB speeds. We are hoping that soon we will upgrade our ISP plans and switch to being capable of handling 10GB speeds.
Testing the Network
Once I had the entire network set up to make sure that everything was working properly, I used speedtest.net to run the connectivity speed test of the network. I also walked around the necessary area to ensure there were no network dead zones for the wireless signal and everything was working fine.
Maintaining the Network
It is important to maintain this network on a regular basis, and this includes updating the passwords, firmware updates, applying security patches, and troubleshooting any problems that arise.
Setting up both wireless and wired internet connectivity for 20+ workstations can be a daunting task, but it was quite an experience. Also, it is essential for the growth of businesses that rely on the internet. By following the tips in this blog post, you can set up a network that is reliable, secure, and future-proof.
I hope this blog post is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Special thanks to the guys at FiberOne Broadband for doing such an amazing job and assisting when I needed it.