Wi-Fi in Houses of Worship

Technology is Everywhere
Many people walk into a house of worship, and never think about the technology around them that is making it tick. With churches and the like getting bigger and more populated every year, they require technology to efficiently and effectively delivery content to their congregation.
One of those bits of technology is Wi-Fi. Campus-wide Wi-Fi plays a monumental part in making sure people stay connected in a church. The Pastor uploads his sermon to Dropbox to view on his tablet during his sermon, the music minister creates presentations on an in house server that are later downloaded and imported by the A/V team for use during worship, and the nursey workers are diligently keeping track of kids who are signed in and out of child care. Regardless of the job you may have in the church, there is a good chance you interact with Wi-Fi in some way. 
From a member or visitor’s perspective Wi-Fi plays a part for at least some of the attendees. A lot of people opt for a traditional paper Bible, and there is nothing wrong with that, but some younger or more tech savvy people may prefer a digital version on a tablet or phone. Some may want to look up a word, or passage in more detail on the web during the sermon. Someone else may be taking note in Google Docs during the sermon. Of course, there are also the parents who use Wi-Fi for entertainment to keep little Johnny or Suzy from disrupting the entire service.

No matter which reason you are using Wi-Fi in a house of worship there are some key things that you expect from it whether you realize it or not. Most we just take for granted. 
We expect it to work when we need it. People would quickly force themselves to avoid using  Wi-Fi If every other Sunday something didn’t connect, or Sister so-in-so unplugged the extension cord that was strung through the janitors closet to power the router. Reliability is very important. To ensure this the network needs to be installed and configured properly. Quality equipment, dedicated power sources, smart cable paths, and signal quality, are all part of the planning that goes into building a good wireless network.
 
 
 
Everyone has an expectation of security. Whether we’re looking for a scripture or checking our bank balance we all like to think that the connection to our phone is secure. Truth be told a lot of the time its not, or its not as secure as it could be. A good practice is to always have a password on your Wi-Fi connection, especially in a public place. This will keep random Joes from pulling up in the parking lot and watching unmentionable things with your connection or downloading viruses that can infect 

other machines on your network, but this also controls your connected device count. If that password is changed periodically the count will go up and down because your “power users” will connect back immediately with the new password, but the once a month user won’t. This keeps space available for new users and reduces congestion. Another means of securing the network is by segmenting it. You don’t want all your eggs in one basket so to speak. Segmenting a network would do things like, keep your Pastor, Music Minister, and Office staff on a different wireless connection than your members. The last thing we want is for a disgruntled member to find your on-site server on the network and delete everything the church has, or little Johnny might decide to use the shared network printer to print out funny comments or crude gestures. Whatever the circumstance it is paramount that your Wireless network be secured.
 
 
 
 
We all want speed.  Cars, Phones, and Laptops are getting faster every year, so we expect our network and internet connection to keep up the trend, right? I’d say for most churches speed is the last thing on their mind. The argument you hear is “all we do is email or share some documents”. Most people don’t take into consideration, is the number of people that could be accessing that document or sending that email at any given time, or who may be watching a YouTube video, or downloading an update to their phone or laptop. This is called bandwidth. Speed and bandwidth go hand in hand, but they aren’t the same. Think of water traveling through a pipe. The water in a ½ inch pipe can travel the same speed as water in a 6” pipe, but the 6” pipe is carrying much more 

water. The bigger pipe has more bandwidth at the same speed. This is the same as 1 or 2 people sending an email verses two or three hundred people sending an email. As uses for Wi-Fi increase, more and more bandwidth is required. The single best thing that can be done to keep up wit
h this demand is, upgrading your equipment. The cabling is fine, but wireless technology is constantly changing and getting better. The bigger your church is, the more you will find this to be true. Youth groups are usually using content online to complete lessons. Kids classes are singing and dancing to songs on YouTube, and none of this takes into consideration the enormous amount of traffic generated by social networking.
 
 
 
Complete Coverage. As I mentioned before some church campuses can be huge. This requires some special considerations when it comes to distributing a reliable network connection, wired or wireless. Most of the time this means it is one large building that requires a lot of access points, but many times, I’ve heard “we can’t get Wi-Fi in this building or that building”. I ask them, “why not?”. The answer is usually “it’s too far away” or “we don’t have the money to pay two internet bills” What they don’t realize is that the technology is out there to get Wi-Fi almost anywhere you want it. I currently have a connection to a building that is over 1000ft from my house. If you have buildings that aren’t connected and need to be,

 or if you’re paying for multiple internet connections for your campus, you have other options. 
It’s hard to argue against the benefits of Wi-Fi in a house of worship. Everyone can share the files needed, teach their material, or stay in communication with each other. For all that to happen, as we have learned above, it must be designed and implemented correctly and with the proper equipment.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Shameless Plug
If you would like to know what options your place of worship has for Wi-Fi or anything technology don’t hesitate to call or email me. I’d be happy to put together a solution for you.
 
 
 

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