Cities in Northwest Arkansas are filled with people who want good, strong, reliable network topology infrastructures in their businesses and homes. We’re talking about people in communities like Bentonville, Rogers, Fayetteville, Springdale, Lowell, Farmington, Greenland, Centerton, Pea Ridge, Gravette, and any other communities in Northwest Arkansas. Network infrastructure is essential so that you can have good, strong, connected reliability between your device. You also want a good, strong connection to the internet because business can’t function nowadays without a good, reliable internet connection. For this reason, network infrastructure requires some thought before time. You need to plan out what you’re wanting your business to do and what you’re wanting the devices on your network to do. You want to make sure that everything is as strongly connected as possible.

What does a network need to begin with? It needs a good strong backbone just like a person. The backbone of the network bears the brunt of all of the traffic that goes back and forth across it. Nowadays gigabit networks are commonplace and a gigabit connection should be fast enough to provide you with all of the speed you need. If you do not currently have gigabit speeds on your network, then it’s definitely time to review your network infrastructure. There are still devices out there that only connect up at 100 megs, and a small handful that only connect up at 10 megs. Most everything out there, including smart appliances, connects up at much more fast speeds than 100 megs.

Networks have evolved very rapidly over the years. If you go back 30 years, a 10 meg network was considered high speed. 20 years ago, 100 meg was considered the state of the art. Nowadays, gigabit all the way to the desktop is standard. And when people do things like download huge PST files from Outlook, they fill that gigabit pipeline very quickly. 10 gig backbones are becoming commonplace and these are definitely great to have if your business has them. They’re still pretty expensive and they do require extremely clean wiring.

Your network infrastructure includes Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi was considered a luxury 25 years ago. Nowadays, however, businesses cannot function without it. And it needs to be strong, it needs to be fast, it needs to be reliable. It also needs to be secure. You have to make sure you cover all four of those bases when you install a new Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi infrastructure is just as important as network infrastructure. How much space does your business cover? If it’s more than, say, 1,500 square feet, then you’re probably going to want repeaters. Inexpensive repeaters simply take the existing Wi-Fi and amplify it and rebroadcast it. You have to manually connect two repeaters in order to get their signal. For this reason, you want your business to have a mesh network. Mesh networks will allow you to jump from access point to access point smoothly without losing any signal or connectivity. Mesh networks are more expensive than just inexpensive repeater-driven networks. However, you’re going to want them. They have gotten cheap enough to where you can afford them. And if your customer loses a phone call because they’re walking from one end of your business to the other, connecting to basic repeaters, then they’re not going to be happy.

That brings us to your internet connection. It is a very essential part of your network infrastructure. How fast is your internet pipeline? What is its capacity? The more the better. Nowadays, gigabit fiber is becoming readily available to businesses, and its rates have also become quite affordable. Since your internet connection is a tax write-off, why not opt for the very best you can afford? It will make you money in the long run. Off-site backups are the most critical reason to have a good, strong, fast internet connection. Off-site backups are your ultimate protection against things like physical damage to your business. Ransomware, and someone actually stealing your equipment. If any of those things happen, it’s bad. But if you have off-site backup, it’s not devastating. You will recover from it. And the best way to have effective off-site backup is to have plenty of bandwidth.

100 megabits is the slowest your business should have. And we’re talking 100 megabit download and upload. Don’t settle for a package that gives you a 100 meg download and something weaker, say 15 meg upload. Because uploading is where you’re doing your backup.

What are some other key concepts of network topology infrastructure. Do you have voice over IP telephones? If so, you want their bandwidth to be prioritized so that it gets through ahead of everything else. One way this can be accomplished is by keeping your phones on a separate network from your other devices. This can be done with VLANs. VLANs are virtual LANs. They’re just like completely separate networks that run on the same wire.

Are VLAN’s is for you? They might be. What you need is an expert to look things over and let you know. And that’s where I come in, or any other IT consultant who knows about networking. You can run your entire office on one flat network. If it’s small. And you may not have any issues doing that. But it’s good practice to at least isolate your phones. How are your network terminations? Have you ever had them tested? A bad network termination can slow things down and can drastically affect your infrastructure for the worse.

What about patch cables? What do they look like? Are they worn or pinched or broken on the ends? Patch cables are a relatively inexpensive part of your network and if you see any in bad repair get them replaced.

To sum up, treat your network nicely and it’ll treat you nicely. Have it tuned up. Have an expert check things out and run some speed tests and some physical integrity tests. You’ll be very, very glad you did.