Choosing an internet connection
Start by considering your internet connection needs on a "normal day" (5-10 laptops + cell phones in the office connected) and on a "peak day" (e.g. 50 volunteers doing phone banking - all connected to WiFi).
You can use this tool to determine the minimum download speed you should look for. If you don’t know what your highest level of usage will be, look for service that provides at least 25 Mbps download speed.
The service you purchase should be commercial, not home. Commercial services tend to guarantee uptime (availability of the network), make repair commitments, and have penalties if the service is not what was promised, all of which home services do not necessarily offer. If you can find and afford fiber service, you should get it. Otherwise, get cable internet service. Other service tiers aren’t recommended for use in a campaign office.
The WiFi router that comes with your internet service may not be secure and often doesn’t perform well. We recommend Google WiFi because it has great security, expanding the network to support more devices or area in an office is as easy as getting another device, and it’s relatively cheap.
Use this set-up guide to get started with Google WiFi. We also recommend the Netgear Orbi Pro or Eero router.
Submit a question if you need help setting them up.
Why Eero, Orbi, and Google Wi-fi?
One major reason: Auto-updating firmware.
The router is the first line of defense against active attacks from the internet and forms the perimeter of your network. The most critical attribute for protecting your network is ensuring the first point on the perimeter is constantly updated against all known attacks.
These three systems are known to have seamless auto-update schemes for their firmware.
Why not just use the ISP provided router?
When you get internet service, the ISP will provide a router and recommend you only use that router. However, it almost certainly does not auto-update firmware, making it a possible security hole, especially for political campaigns that may attract highly skilled and motivated attackers.
The ISP routers tend to be underpowered. This manifests in only handling a medium number of devices and connections before the router overloads and starts reducing speed, dropping connections, or kicking devices off the network.
Finally, ISP-provided hardware tends to be older. Given how central reliable internet is to campaigns, putting a better router in front is a cheap way to improve efficiency and security.
Next, find out how to set-up your network and wifi.