Network

The Federal Communications Commission is Evaluating Mobile Broadband

Broadband Internet access is a critical consideration for today’s world, considering how much of daily life and business is now conducted online. Having said that, Internet access is still far from a given. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission wants to work to fix this—but to do so, they need data. To help collect this data, the FCC wants you to install a speed test application on your smartphone.

The Importance of Broadband Access

Consider how prevalent the Internet is in everyday life right now: more and more is now handled online. This makes it challenging for many people in areas where broadband Internet connectivity is limited (or even nonexistent) to do very much at all—let alone shop, communicate, or as we tend to focus on, work remotely.

The past year or so has made the severity of this lack starkly apparent, with many people and businesses struggling under their current connectivity limitations. This is part of the reason that the FCC is reinvigorating an application that was originally launched back in 2013 and asking the public to install it on their mobile devices.

The FCC’s App

This application, fittingly called FCC Speed Test, will assist the FCC in evaluating which areas have the most prescient need of better Internet service quality, enabling them to more effectively fund the areas that need more help. Available on both Android and iOS, this app tests your mobile device’s upload and download speeds, as well as its latency, on either a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. By default, these tests take place once every 24 hours—although you can configure these tests to occur when it is most convenient, and how much data that can be consumed during these evaluations.

This app also allows you to test your connectivity speeds, plotting them out over time and by geographic location. In terms of privacy, the app collects a few different identifiers—location, IP address, operating system, device type, and ISP—but no personally identifiable details are recorded.

You’re also able to complain about your Internet speeds to the FCC directly, enabling them to collect even more actionable data.

Check out the FCC’s FAQ page about the application to learn more.

Hopefully, this resurgence in interest in accessible and equitable Internet access will prove fruitful, bringing the utility of the Internet’s full capabilities to more people and organizations. In the meantime, we’re here to help companies do as much as they can with the IT that is available right now. To find out what your technology could be helping you accomplish, reach out to Jackson Thornton Technologies at 334-834-7660. 

 

Improve the Wi-Fi at Your Business

Today, most businesses (and homes) depend on their Wi-Fi. It provides a lot more flexibility and value than a wired connection in many instances simply because people use a lot of wireless devices today. Today’s wireless internet is easier to install, is faster than ever, and works to protect network security better than ever before, once it is set up correctly. Today, we’ll give you a few tips you should know on how to successfully implement a Wi-Fi platform. 

Identify Purpose

There are pros and cons to utilizing a wireless network. If you are considering enhancing mobility and bringing more flexibility to your workforce, setting up a WLAN is the easiest and most cost effective way to do so. Sharing network attached resources with users inside your network is an absolute must for most businesses, so in that case, having a wireless strategy is mandatory. Wireless is very customizable as well, so you can do a lot more things, more simply with Wi-Fi than if you choose to wire everything up.

Plan Coverage Area

Your Wi-Fi has to do what you need it for, it’s that simple. If you are looking for a way to connect your users to your business network and don’t want the signal available outside the building, you can absolutely do that, but one would suggest that you’d by-in-large see faster transmission speeds if you used a wired network approach, but that can be costly. You will want to plan the space you need your Wi-Fi to go and then start planning where you will place your hardware.

Bandwidth 

You need to know how much bandwidth your business will need at the time of implementation and an estimate of how much it will need in the years to come. By estimating your organization's bandwidth needs you will be able to know a couple crucial details: How much you will pay for the bandwidth and how your bandwidth will be spent. Once you know all the particulars, you can successfully calculate your business’ networking costs. 

Procure Hardware

Getting the hardware you need is a pretty simple job, but you will want to consider what standard you plan on using. The most prevalent for high speed wireless transmission are 802.11a and 802.11g. 802.11b delivers slower Internet speeds, but also reduces the prices of the hardware substantially. For your business you will want something that meets the wireless needs of your business. 

Deployment

The placement of the hardware is the biggest and most important consideration. If you need more than one network to fill your business’ needs then you will need to work that out with your ISP. Most businesses build their wireless network to include guest use, so you will also want to consider how available your wireless signal is in order to fulfill the next task. 

Plan and Implement Security

Just like you work to secure your user accounts with password protection and other forms of security, you will want to ensure that all of your security steps are taken care of. Most times, this is a little more complex so your business would really benefit from a professional perspective. While you may understand that you need to update firewall permissions, assign user access, and much more, a professional will understand the specifics of it and can really work to keep your Wi-Fi network much more secure than it would otherwise be.

Here are a few suggestions, should you want to undertake this procedure yourself:

1. Change your router’s admin password - The first step in most security practices is changing the password. It is the same for setting up your router(s).

2. Turn off Service Set Identifier (SSID) broadcasting - This doesn’t allow passersby to see that your wireless network is up and available. 

3. Change default SSID - Since a lot of factory-provided SSID values are available, you can avoid them altogether by changing the SSID login name.

4. Enable MAC address filtering - This gives you control over which users have access to what access points. 

5. Add EAP authentication and enable encryption - Requires secure authentication from each user on the network. 

6. Consider secure remote access or virtual private networking - This provides users operating outside your network the means to send and receive data securely. 

Operability and security are the keys to any technology deployment, and to get there you may need the knowledgeable Jackson Thornton Technology technicians. Call us today if you have any questions about your business’ technology at 334-834-7660. 

 

Tip of the Week: A Beginner’s Guide to Wireless Networking

When creating an office’s network, wireless functionality has become a necessary element to include. Of course, this is usually easier said than done, as wireless signals can be notoriously persnickety. That’s why we’re offering some tips to help you make the most of your business’ wireless network setup.

1.  Know What Your Needs Are, and What to Expect of Your Devices

Before you even acquire the Wi-Fi access points that will make up your networks, a little clerical work will be helpful. To accurately identify your needs, you need to crunch a few numbers. How many people will need to access the Internet, with which devices? Which of your systems will rely on an Internet connection, and how many of those cannot be hardwired? What will people be doing while they’re on the Internet? Having an idea of these points will tell you what your business will require, and then you can make an informed decision regarding your wireless network configuration and the equipment you will need.

2.  Be Strategic About Your Access Point Placement

You also want to think about where your wireless access points should be placed, because it isn’t necessarily always in the most central location. Instead, it is often dependent on where the most demand is coming from. You also need to consider if your access points will serve you best mounted on the wall or ceiling, or if they will be most effective while placed on a desktop. Make sure that you account for obstacles that may cause signal interference, like HVAC vents, wires, and other devices.

As you make these deliberations, it will be very helpful to identify where your signal is strongest and weakest with your access points in different configurations. That way, you can place them in the optimal position for connectivity. There are various mobile applications available that will allow you to analyze your available Wi-Fi signal, so be sure to take advantage of one.

3.  Don’t Forget About External Factors

Unfortunately, the strength of your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t succeed or fail based solely on whether there’s an obstruction in the way. There are plenty of other potential reasons that your network performance is detrimentally impacted. Access points can interfere with one another, especially if they are operating on the same wireless channel. If you’re sharing space with other businesses, this could especially be the case.

Don’t leave your business at the mercy of its wireless Internet signal. Jackson Thornton Technologies has years of networking experience to draw upon as we address these challenges and needs. TO learn more about what we can do for you, reach out to us at 334-834-7660.