Summary: Wireless access points for PCs, laptops, and phones are discussed by Dave Hodgdon and Steve Ripper from PCG IT. Find out everything a company needs to know about access points and Wi-Fi connections. Listen or read more to learn about wireless access points for PCs and laptops.

Dave Andreesen: Good morning, it is 7:40 here on the Morning Information Center. I'm Dave Andreesen, and on this week for Mike Pomp and the Morning Information Center is brought to you by PCG IT for world-class IT service and customer support. Head on over to pcgit.com. It is Tech Tuesday and joining me in the studio is Dave and Steve from PCG IT. Give yourself a round of applause, there you go, there you go.

Steve Ripper: This is like the best —

Dave: — It is. It is. Yeah, it's the best 10 minutes on Tuesday morning radio, that's right.

Dave Hodgdon: And thankfully the rain has smashed down the heat. It's odd right?

Dave A.: I know. Right? High temperatures, 70 degrees today. We go from 99 degrees on Saturday to 70 degrees today, but we're in new England. Right?

So today we're going to talk about wireless everywhere and everything. So, what type of wireless? So, we're talking about our systems here in our homes and in our offices?

Dave H: Yeah, we were talking about wireless access points, the wireless. So, cause that's always the confusing question you get, Dave, is "Am I talking about the wireless? Like on my phone?" And we'll even get that question a lot, like on my cell phone. What are we talking about? We're talking about the cell phone tower, the wireless signal. So, it gets confusing, but now, we're talking about literally wireless for your laptops, tablets, PCs. So, every company usually has some form of wireless, if they're doing a bit of a cloud in their buildings so that their laptops can move around. So that's what we're talking about. You know, how do we make it better? Cause there's nothing more frustrating than your wireless not working or not working as well as you want.

Determining When Wireless is ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’

Dave A.: Well this being a tech company here at the radio station, we have actually really good wireless, I mean you guys haven't tested it out. So, I don't know. Maybe I don't think that we do, but what is the secret to good wireless? Because I think it's pretty good here because wherever I go in the building it's pretty fast.

Dave H.: Yeah. So, so if it's good then it's good. So that's one of the things we find out about wireless is that you know when it is and you absolutely know when it isn't, when it's just frustrating when it's not as fast as it should be or you're not getting all the bars you need. So, what makes good wireless, you know good access points, having enough of them. You find a lot of companies will do just one or home, they'll just do one, try to live on the third floor and there's one down on the first floor. Why are you getting crappy coverage? ‘Cause why can't I stream my Netflix upstairs?

Steve: And the key to a proper wireless is the assessment, Dave. And we use a tool that really helps us determine where the access points will be, where the dead spots are. And the key question is: how many people really need to be need to be online? Is it just the staff or are they a company, like a golf course? It's bringing a lot of people in, do they hold events ‘cause people are bringing their phones, their tablets. ‘Cause some access points can handle 5,10,15 users. But all of a sudden, they use the word density, you've consumed it all up and now people can't get on.

Wi-Fi Density

Dave A.: But what about some of these restaurants and businesses that you go to that offer free Wi-Fi, how does that work? Are you limited by how many people can actually get on there at a time? Can you have 30 people on the internet?

Dave H.: So, you have to watch the peaks and valleys, what is your density at any given time? That's definitely been a challenge. So, it used to be that we would just count the number of laptops and PCs that we put in your network. Now every single person who walks through the door is a wireless consumer of some kind. Their phones — many phones will just automatically connect. So, you do have to manage, you know, so those are questions that we'll ask a company, especially if they're in a retail space golf . . . golf courses. You're looking at . . . it's not just how many people work for you, how many people are coming through your doors? Do you have peaks? Do you have a Friday night? We need to know if 150 people are coming through on a Monday.

Steve: If it's Friday, if bad wireless, you just get bad vibes. And when they can't get on for people addicted to their phones. So, it's imperative to have the right wireless setup from the get go. And a lot of people kind of get frustrated the cost, but you know it's a service you're delivering to whoever's coming to your place.

Best Wireless Vendors

Dave A.: Well speaking of that cost, I know that you can go online and you can buy inexpensive wireless access points or wireless systems and you can buy really expensive wireless systems. What are some of the best vendors for this equipment that a company that you would suggest possibly?

Steve: We always like Comcast. They're giving you free wireless on their modem, but it's only so good and they're putting the modem way back in the ‘D Mark’ in the room and you're not going to get coverage everywhere a day.

Dave A.: Right. And we're not using that, I mean we have Comcast here but we don't use that because it's so far back there.

Steve: But then you start thinking about like what is the right product? How many users do you need? Is it managed up, but typically, some of the players we're most familiar with is the Cisco Meraki, the Aruba, Ubiquiti or some of the major players we're always working with.

Controller-Based Systems

Dave A.: And what is the controller-based system? What does that mean?

Dave H.: So, controllers are where . . .  it used to be — so, I'm always talking about back in the day, but it's easiest way to describe the differences. You know, you just put a single wireless access point and, it really wasn't what we would call managed. It just gave out a signal, people connected to it, used the password and away you go. A controller-based system is when you start to have 3,4,5,10 wireless access points. So, if you're doing your warehouse or you're doing even your home, you want to have a controller that knows where all the wireless access points are. So, if you have five of them, it's aware of the five of them. It can tell you if one of them isn't working because how would you know?

It also manages who's connecting to it and really the biggest part that people will notice, so back in the day, if you had three wireless access points, you might move away from one and lose the signal because you're connected to that first one, but you're not picking up the second one even though you're standing right in front of it. So, a controller will know what you're doing. It knows that the laptop is moving around the building and it moves you from wireless access point access point to another wireless access points, so you're always keeping the five bars.

Dave A.: So, it's almost like cell phone coverage as you're moving from one area to another, you're picking up other —

Steve: People got frustrated. They're at their desk, they're picking up their notebook and they're going to go to a conference. And on their application all of a sudden, they're walking over there and they're losing the connection. It’s just a little bit to having that control of base. Most of it is cloud based now. It's really, that the key is managing the wireless goods, it's going to be more and more people are on it. Your HVAC, your security systems. There's so many more things coming onto the wireless that you need to think about the big picture cause they're all sucking up stuff. And the biggest threat we've been seeing, and I'm sure the target was one of the biggest hacks that , they got through the HVAC people. And you need to have that public and private totally defined, and make sure anyone, whether your employee or guest, it has to be on the public.

Your phones are everywhere and you figure your kids during the vulnerabilities now are on the phone, so if you bring your phone in, and it's on the private network, you have a potential cyber threat right in front of you.

Security Vulnerabilities

Dave A.: Okay. I mean, why is that more . . .  that's your big tip of the day here, to all have your private cell phone or a company cell phone off the private network. We have two different networks here, so, what's the difference? I mean why — we are talking about security vulnerabilities from your cell phone as opposed to your laptop but then it almost be the same thing.

Dave H.: Well, so what we're really talking about is more of the wireless network, right? So, the public is going to be not connected to anything data that you have inside your building. It's only going to do internet. That's really all you're interested in. You want your customers, your vendors creates better atmosphere and better business for you, to give them internet. They want to come in and get connected, but you don't want them to have any way of getting towards your data. So, the private network is going to be set up so that when you're on wireless, it's the same as wired. You can get at server, if you have some servers, you can get at your data, you can get at devices, printers, copiers, whatever you need to do, but the public is going to be connected to none of those things. Only the internet. So, you would see companies a lot of time would take a, what they would think of as a public access point and they would just plug it directly into the Comcast, so that you couldn't get to any of the data.

That's one way of doing it. But you'd rather see in like when we talk about a controller-based system where you're taking the public and we do a thing called ‘V Lands’ where we're just saying, "inside the network, that those you can't get to any other resources. Just the internet." And the private, very highly secured, has a password, can get to the data resources. So, making sure that people who are just walking through the door let their phones, always public, public, employee or not. Yeah. And you know, this is a customer service thing now for businesses because it's almost expected that when you walk into a business that they're going to offer Wi-Fi. So, if you don't have a good wireless system, a good Wi-Fi system there, it's not good customer service.

Steve: If you go to many waiting rooms right now. It's the first thing, you're in a hospital, a waiting room.

Dave A.: Oh, you get the frowny face, right?! It's like first where did they say first world problems, you know it's —

Dave H.: — You know, do you have wireless? It's . . . "You don't have wireless. Like what?"

Dave A.: Well if you've got any questions for these guys, they are PCGIT, it is Dave and Steve. You can now head on over to pcgit.com, guys, do you have anything else on this?

Steve: Just the key to wireless is having the right assessment and we have the right tools help you have the right solution. The nice thing about the cloud controller base, you don't have to, you might need 10 but you can add 3,4,5 and expand as you need it because you know, you don't need a wireless in the bathroom, but a lot of people are using the bathroom.

Dave A.: Yeah, I know, I know.

Steve: You got to have that signal there. But yeah, just the wireless assessment is the key.

Dave A.: Okay. It's PCGIT for world-class IT service and customer support. Go to pcgit.com. Dave and Steve, thanks for joining this morning.

Dave H.: Thanks, Dave.

Steve: Have a great day.