WiFi, or wireless internet connectivity, has become such a big part in our lives that it can at times even dictate the shopping centres and restaurants that we visit, with many people asking for your WiFi password before even looking at the menu.
For many service-driven small businesses like restaurants, café’s or guest houses, the cost of a fully monitored and managed wireless network can be a little out of your budget.
Providing WiFi to your guests and patrons can get costly quick: there’s the setup costs which include your wireless access point, and for some guest solution providers there is a monthly licence fee to make use of their service. On top of this we still have the basic overhead involved in providing a good network experience during your peak hours – not to mention the expertise in making sure your network is not being abused by patrons.
This is where a brand called Ubiquiti could be the solution you need. Ubiquiti offers near full wireless management to your café or property all from one online panel.
To get started, you will need to purchase and install a few of their Wireless access points across your property, and then configure the portal. From the online panel, you can start seeing all devices connected to your wireless network as well as the current usage of the devices.
Once you know your network is being successfully monitored, we recommend creating a Guest network just to ensure that patrons and customers are separate from your personal or production network.
This will also help in controlling your available bandwidth. Let's say you have a 20MB Fibre connection. If you are using Ubiquiti's UniFi system, this will allow you to set guest speeds or even data usage. In this instance, you can set the Guest network to only allow each connected device up to 4MB of your 20MB connection - or you could simply just cap the Guest connection at a set usage limit for all devices connected.
Yes, this level of control does still come at a cost and, even though Ubiquiti products are far more reasonably priced than their enterprise-level counterparts, we’ve found that they still deliver the same level of performance, bringing wireless network management to a more affordable point for the small business owner.
These products scale from home through to hotel guest solutions. Have a look at the wide range of products they offer, from CCTV equipment through to WiFi and Lighting - all managed from one single control panel: unifi-network.ui.com Here's a quick guide on how to set up your Guest wireless network, using Ubiquiti's UniFi system:
Step 1: Obtain your Access Point device/s
Our most popular Ubiquiti Access Point is the UniFi AP AC Pro.
Specs for the PRO Access Point, and the Power over Ethernet Injector.
This unit, which is is the start of your own UniFi experience, comes with a Power over Ethernet (PoE) Injector.
While the LAN port connects to your router, the Access Point will connect to the PoE port.
Once this is done, your device is ready for configuration.
Step 2: Install the UniFi Network Controller Software
Assuming your installation is being done by a tech professional, you will not need to worry about the setup of the controller.
However if this is a DIY project for you, you might benefit from this how-to guide.
Step 3: Understanding your Network Portal
Once all of this is done, you will be able to see all the stats shown in the images below once you log into your portal.
The above screenshot is a dashboard of all your UniFi devices, from which you can see their status and configure settings.
On your main stats screen as shown above, you can see your total clients' data used and you will be able to see who your most active client on your network is.
This panel will list every client connected to your network, showing you basic upload and download stats. From here, you can remove users that are using high amounts of data. Alternatively, at the end of the day, you can ensure that only your devices are connected and remove guest devices that might still be connected.
If you're not up to the challenge of setting this up, I would recommend contacting a local ISP or support provider like ourselves who have experience in providing and managing this service. And what's great is that installation costs you’re quoted on installing a Ubiquiti network can be considerably less expensive than other networks due to its ease-of-use.