If you’re planning to build or upgrade a wireless network, The IT Bay provides a range of wireless networking products to help get you connected, cable free. For devices that don’t have built in WiFi, a wireless network interface card (wireless NIC card) provides wireless connectivity. A wireless access point manages all the communications between the different devices on the network. Wireless routers do all this but also contain an Ethernet adapter that connects the wireless network to an adjacent LAN. For long range outdoor linking such as building to building, a wireless bridge provides high speed connectivity. Wireless antennae help boost wireless signal strengths over long distances.
When buying an access point, ensure you pick one with a big enough range to provide the coverage you need as this reduces the number of access points you’ll need to buy. Most enterprise access points can cover between 5,000 - 10,000 feet but there are models that have bigger and smaller ranges.
Look at the data protocol or Wifi standard that the access point supports. The two newest standards are 802.11ac and 802.11ax and offer vastly superior data transfer speeds compared to the older 802.11n protocol. Another feature to watch out for is dual band support. Dual-band access points can support both 2.4GHz and the newer 5GHz frequency band. With 2.4GHz becoming increasingly crowded, the latest Wifi devices are turning to 5GHz for cleaner, less saturated transfers. 802.11a and 802.11ac both support 5 GHz.
Access points are generally designed for one of two main usage scenarios; SOHO or enterprise. SOHO (small or home office) access points are cheaper, can handle fewer clients, have limited configuration options and poor roaming performance. For a business environment, we’d always recommend opting for an enterprise access point. These are more expensive but can support hundreds of clients, are highly configurable and provide better roaming performance.