For all companies, including senior living communities, the demand for seamless Wi-Fi access is growing every day. Your employees want the freedom to access the Internet and work from anywhere on your property. The answer is enterprise Wi-Fi, a wireless network that provides a stable, secure internet connection throughout your physical location.
Enterprise Wi-Fi offers many benefits to your senior living community, but it has to be planned and implemented correctly. It takes a lot of experience as well as expertise in enterprise Wi-Fi technology to make sure that access is reliably available in every office, conference room and common area throughout your property.
Building and maintaining enterprise Wi-Fi networks is a significant burden for IT teams that already have a long list of other priorities, and an expert can do the job more efficiently, saving you both time and money. Let’s take a look at the benefits of enterprise Wi-Fi for your senior living community and why hiring an IT consultant for planning and implementation is the wise choice.
The Benefits of Enterprise Wi-Fi
While your employees may not work from home, as they go from building-to-building or room-to-room, Wi-Fi is no longer an option for the well-run senior living community. Enterprise Wi-Fi enables:
- More mobility for employees. They can access Wi-Fi connections anywhere within your property, instead of being stuck at desks or workstations.
- A reduction in the cost of connectivity by providing fast Internet access without installing, maintaining and upgrading connections to every workspace.
- The ability to provide mission-critical care anywhere, with easy access to medical records and other vital documents stored in the cloud.
Enterprise Wi-Fi is essential to modern business operations, but it’s likely that you don’t have an expert on your staff to help you plan and implement a robust system that will operate without a hitch. This is where RSN excels: From planning, design, installation, and support, our team of wireless engineers will install a complete solution that meets your unique business requirements. Here’s how.
The Planning Stage
You might have a Wi-Fi network at home, and it’s likely you have one modem and router. It works great, allowing your household to stream movies and music while surfing the internet at the same time. It’s a pretty simple setup. Enterprise-level connections, on the other hand, use slightly different protocols and management methods than consumer networks, with equipment that’s able to support larger loads without dropped signals or dead zones.
The goal of enterprise Wi-Fi is to provide the best possible connection and experience for your business, and this requires a specific approach to setup, including the placement of routers and access points as part of the planning process. This means consideration of:
- The extent of coverage needed and where potential bottlenecks can occur.
- The types of building materials used and number of floors.
- Locations with many obstructions such as furniture and thick walls . These areas will require more access points and a stronger antenna array. In this case, heat mapping and signal mapping are used to find sources of interference.
The planning process also includes:
- A predictive site survey / simulation to estimate the number of access points and their placement
- Providing a cost estimate
- Generating a Wi-Fi design report with access point locations and all equipment needed
- Have project discussion meeting to confirm the installation timeline
As part of this process, your vendor should work to keep costs low by understanding the use cases. High-density access points can be used in communal spaces, lobbies, business centers. Then lower cost, low density access points can be used in residential areas.
Specs for wire types, needed speeds at each access point will be developed. It’s important that your vendor:
- Provides full specifications for everything they are installing
- Tests for proper speed at each and every access point, rather than testing just for general connectivity
- Be fully insured
As we mentioned, enterprise Wi-Fi is different from the Wi-Fi network in your home. It requires routing cables, setting up a rack or cabinet, and labeling wires. Also unlike your home network, enterprise Wi-Fi is not a “set it and forget it” system. They require constant monitoring and adjustment, or they will degrade over time.
Be sure to work with your vendor to choose hardware that you own outright, rather than hardware that requires a license. You’ll need to replace that hardware at some point, and if you don’t own your equipment, you’ll pay still re-licensing fees.
You need very specific systems and processes in place to ensure your Wi-Fi systems keep running at peak performance at all times. You also need the right equipment, which includes:
- Routers. These are the backbone of your system, and regulate how your employees will connect to your interior network and the internet.
- Modems. Routers connect through modems and provide the ability to connect to the internet and other company networks that might be located in a different location.
- Hubs. A hub is a network component that allows other devices such as printers, computers, and smart devices to connect to the same local network. They also can boost signals within a single physical location.
- Gateways. These connect multiple networks. As an example, if your senior living community has multiple offices in different locations, there could be different local area network equipment or protocols in place. Gateways help devices with different protocols communicate with each other properly.
- Switches. Switches, like hubs, connect multiple devices to a network. Network switches can be used to connect just two devices or hundreds of employee machines. Unlike routers or access points, switches are not usually connected wirelessly, but rather devices are connected to switches via a hardwire connection. Other devices can then connect wirelessly to the switch via the other components’ hardwired connections.
- Antennas. These provide signal boosts, and are the actual component that transfers data.
After installation, you’ll want to make sure that the following is performed:
- A heatmap and spectrum analysis
- A heatmap of every area–rooms, hallways, etc.
- A spectrum analysis in trouble areas to determine needed adjustments
As you can see, an enterprise Wi-Fi network is not just plug-and-play, and it’s likely a skill that’s not in your IT team’s wheelhouse. And we haven’t even mentioned security. Enterprise Wi-Fi is more vulnerable to security breaches because of its multiple access points. An expert can implement robust security protocols that include strong authentication requirements, regular security audits, and consistent system upgrades.
In other words, enterprise Wi-Fi is complicated, but can deliver productivity and efficiency improvements, as well as provide a better quality of care for your senior living community residents.
RSN: The Senior Living Community Enterprise Wi-Fi Experts
We’re the best at what we do. For more than 20 years we’ve been working with senior living communities to resolve their technology problems and breathe new life into their business with innovative solutions that increase productivity, reduce staff stress, and improve the quality of care for every resident.
In addition to enterprise Wi-Fi, we also offer the following services that make us your one-stop shop for all of your tech needs:
- IT planning and installation for acquisitions
- Project management
- Vendor management
- Security systems
- Enterprise voice
- Building infrastructure design
- Telecommunications systems
Notes from team
- Ensure that a predictive analysis tool is used to determine number and location of access points
- Accounts for types of building material in use, number of floors, etc
- Keep costs low by understanding use cases – high density access points can be used in communal spaces, lobbies, business centers. Lower cost, low density access points can be used in residential areas, etc.
- Choosing the right low voltage vendor and working together closely
- Provide specs for wire types, needed speeds at each access point, etc
- Ensure that vendor provides full specifications for what they are installing
- Ensure testing is in place for proper speed at each access point (rather than just general connectivity)
- Ensure they are fully insured
- Perform heatmap and spectrum analysis after installation
- Heatmap of every room, hallway etc
- Run spectrum analysis in trouble areas to determine needed adjustments
- Choose hardware that you own outright, rather an hardware that requires licensing to use
- Generally, you’ll need to replace the hardware as it degrades over time—around 5 years–having to also pay to renew licensing is (generally) a bad deal