The Secrets of Wireless Networks for Coworking- Part 1
“Fast WiFi is to coworking, like coffee is to Starbucks”. If you are a coworking operator, you know that truer words were never spoken. Wireless networks for coworking need to be fast and reliable.
Without fast internet, who would be a member of your coworking community?
Yes, your amenities are wonderful. The design is outstanding, and you have the perfect location.
However, the seats are empty.
You have a cable modem for internet service that is barely reliable. The funny thing is that the coffee shop down the street is packed with people working on laptops.
It’s no coincidence.
If this sounds familiar, you might want to know the Secrets of Coworking Technology.
Since 2014, TechNoir Solutions has worked with coworking operations of all sizes, to build fast and reliable wireless networks for coworking. From owner/operator, single location companies to national brands, with locations across the country, our Help Desk has supported over 10,000+ end users. Our engineers have supported hundreds of data networks, nationwide, for coworking clients. Learn more about us here.
With all that experience in coworking technology, once thing is very clear. You better be ready for heavy use of your networks. Which is fine, as long as you are prepared. Prepared means, having the right technology, redundancies, and policies in place when you open your doors.
Of course, you can address these issues after you have opened, but by that time, it may be too late. Bad Yelp reviews do not make an operator happy. If you find yourself in this position, you know that there is urgency for a resolution.
The Foundation of Wireless Networks for Coworking
Who are your members? How do they use the internet in their day to day business?
Are your members primarily therapists, who meet patients in their offices and do very little work on computers?
Or perhaps, you’ve marketed to the local startup community, where you have a mix of entrepreneurs who might be coding or publishing videos or need real-time data feeds for their businesses.
It’s no surprise which one of these coworking centers will be extremely dependent on their data networks. Understanding your member communities is the first step to designing fantastic wireless networks for coworking.
Understanding the Needs of Wireless Networks for Coworking
Whether your coworking space manages its own internet and WiFi network or it uses a service like Essensys, understanding what goes into high performing wireless networks for coworking will help you make more informed decisions for your coworking space.
As you know, coworking spaces are dynamic ecosystems where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers come together to work, network, and collaborate. This dynamic nature requires a data network that can host a diverse range of devices, from laptops to smartphones to smart (IoT) devices.
With this in mind, fast and reliable internet could be considered the backbone of your coworking space. Your members rely on seamless connectivity for tasks ranging from video conferencing to uploading and downloading large files. High-speed internet not only enhances your members productivity, but also contributes to member satisfaction.
However, fast internet all by itself isn’t everything you need. Coworking spaces will experience fluctuations in occupancy and demand. By building a scalable and flexible network infrastructure that allows for easy scaling, your coworking space will be able to accommodate more users and devices without compromising performance.
Last, but certainly not least, is network security. Network security is a major concern in coworking environments. With multiple users sharing the same network, robust security measures must be in place to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber threats. Configuring the network property, from the beginning, will ensure that security is baked in.
Top 4 Design Considerations of Wireless Networks for Coworking
As mentioned previously, understanding your member community is the foundation from which to build upon. However, once you have determined who will be using your network, you then need to consider the space you are in, the type of connectivity you will be providing, internet bandwidth you’ll need and redundancy.
1 – Planning
Whenever we have a new project, the first thing we ask for are the floor plans. This is the very first step to determine how much and what kind of equipment will be needed. We assess the floor plans by looking at the office layout, meeting rooms and common areas. How the offices are laid out makes a big difference in network design. Are they dense, or spread out; are offices drywall or glass wall? It all makes a difference in the design. We also need details on the building materials (especially important with older buildings that are being renovated), since brick, mortar and wood beams absorb WiFi transmissions like a sponge
2 – Wired vs. Wireless Networks
The choice between wired and wireless networks depends on a number of factors such as user density, device mobility, latency needs and cost. While wired connections offer greater stability, wireless networks provide the flexibility required in a coworking environment. The vast majority of coworking spaces we have designed have wireless networking, simply because it is the logical choice for members who use laptops.
So wireless seems to be the clear choice? Well, there are some drawbacks:
- Requires more configuration, setup, and maintenance than wired networks (the operator must budget for this OpEx cost, it’s real).
- WiFi is prone to interference from microwaves, wireless networks from nearby buildings, un/intended wireless networks installed by members and Bluetooth devices (AirPods).
- WiFi signals can be blocked or weakened by concrete and masonry walls, timber beams, metal HVAC equipment, glass, drywall, tile, and conduit.
That’s a lot to consider, especially if your space has dense floor plans and or multiple floors.
Typically, wired ports are typically easier to install properly, need less management, and maintenance is straightforward. The downside, if you are building a new space, is that the CapEx costs will be much higher for the network equipment and data cabling installation, than for a fully wireless network.
Regardless, ensure that you have a clearly defined policies for internet use, access to the wireless network and online etiquette.
3 – Bandwidth Allocation
Properly allocating bandwidth ensures that essential tasks receive the necessary resources. High-definition video conferencing, VoIP phones, and data-intensive applications should be prioritized to prevent bottlenecks.
Allocating bandwidth per member ensures that the bandwidth from the incoming internet circuit is never too oversubscribed.
4 – Redundancy and Failover Mechanisms
To minimize downtime, incorporating redundancy and failover mechanisms is crucial. Redundant internet connections and backup power sources can keep the network operational even during outages.
One word of caution, have realistic expectations. The only backup power supplies that will keep your internet up and running during an extended power outage are diesel generators. Most affordable battery backups are not intended to run for more than 3-12 minutes. These batteries are intended to only provide a “graceful shutdown” to the equipment connected to them. Expecting a $300 battery backup device to power your entire network is not realistic, however they are necessary to guard against brownouts and power surges.spikes.
Wireless Networks for Coworking need Internet
Your internet connection will go down. It is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Cable, fiber, satellite, or terrestrial microwave all have downtime at some point or another. Depending on the demographics of your members, it may not matter if the internet goes out once in a while (therapists). Conversely, it may matter a great deal if the internet goes out for your members….and it will always happen at a critical time for you or one of your members.
These circuits should be the same type of connectivity, meaning they both should be cable or fiber. Doing this will allow you to “load balance” the bandwidth between the two circuits. If you cannot get two circuits with the same connectivity, you cannot load balance the bandwidth. Instead, you’ll have to have one circuit as a primary and one circuit as a failover. The reason being fiber and cable use two different mediums to transport data. Cable uses copper wire; fiber optic uses glass cables. Because there is more resistance when data travels over copper wire, it has higher latency than fiber. Load balancing requires both connections/circuits to have the same latency.
More to Come on Wireless Networks for Coworking
Stay tuned for the next part of the article, where we’ll delve into selecting the right network equipment and addressing data security concerns. Whether you’re setting up a new coworking space or looking to enhance your existing network, these insights will be invaluable.