Majority of SMBs view Wi-Fi network as business critical, and important for customer service

According to some new research, the vast majority of small businesses out there now consider workplace Wi-Fi as a business critical element of their operation.

The survey which encompassed 500 SMBs (with from one to 250 staff) across all industries – from art galleries to hairdressers – found that 75 per cent said that a wireless network was essential to the smooth running of their business. If you narrow the businesses down to those with between 100 and 250 employees (larger small businesses, as it were), that figure rises to 84 per cent.

When asked why Wi-Fi is so important, the majority said that it improved customer service (75 per cent) and made the business more productive (74 per cent). 67 per cent of respondents felt it helped them keep pace with rivals.

53 per cent remarked that Wi-Fi was needed to connect an increasing amount of work and personal (BYOD) devices to the business.

The survey also found, however, that a good deal of companies have had a bad experience with their wireless network, as 31 per cent said they had considered ditching their Wi-Fi after experiencing poor network quality and reliability. 33 per cent were also concerned about potential security risks.

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Also, with larger SMBs of more than 100, 35 per cent were unsure of how to set up a Wi-Fi network within their infrastructure (the figure was 25 per cent for all SMBs).

Jonathan Hallatt, Regional Director UK, Ireland & South Africa for Netgear, commented: "People quite simply work better when they can communicate, access and share information from wherever they are in the workplace. A resilient wireless network allows you to respond to guests and colleagues, and take bookings or orders using an internet-enabled device wherever you happen to be. Productivity will improve and your customers will be happier."

Netgear further advises SMBs to go for a simple wireless solution that is easy to implement, and features WPA and WPA2 support in terms of security. Wireless access points can also be used to ensure fast performance across a larger area.

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