Many businesses today use LAN (Local Area Network) technology to enable employees to share a common data source. It also provides a common point via which the devices that employees use, can communicate with one another. There is however an ongoing debate as whether businesses should deliver their LANs via a wired, or an unwired connection.
But with more and more companies now opting to deploy wireless rather than wired technology, are they perhaps not fully informed, or is it that they see are making informed decisions and are opting to avail themselves of the many advantages that working wirelessly facilitates?
If the Hat fits......
The biggest concerns that are floated when debating wired v wireless networks are security and speed. It has to be said that in both instances wired is superior. However, having said that, although wired has a clear edge, that doesn’t mean to say that wireless is either insecure, or slow.
The security of wireless is actually very good using the latest encryption technology. That’s not to say it can’t be hacked into – it can – and being more open, in terms of accessibility, the danger is certainly greater. This can be overcome by implementing strong passwords and both hardware and software security solutions.
There are of course businesses that do have particularly desirable data that hackers would like to get their hands on– like banks for instance, with all of the personal financial information they hold. For these organisations, that sort of sensitive data warrants maximum security.
In terms of speed - for most small to medium-sized businesses, the slower speed that a wireless network provides is still fast enough for what they need.
So when it comes down to choosing between wired and wireless networking from a speed and security angle, each individual business must examine its own needs, and if the hat fits... wear it accordingly.
Wireless Networking has many Advantages to offer
For those businesses where superfast speed and ultra secure methodology are not critically important, going wireless has many advantages to offer.
Advantage # 1 – Increased Mobility
Increased mobility is by far the biggest attraction that wireless networking holds for most businesses. Being able to sit at any terminal, anywhere in the building and access the server is a great advantage.
When laptops were developed, because of the new mobility convenience factor that they brought within them, this gave added impetus to the advantages of being able to work anywhere within range of the wireless network signal. It means that not only can employees now access information from the server, wherever they are in the premises, but it also enables colleagues to collaborate and share information in meetings held anywhere; either in a corner of the office, a bespoke meeting room, or even the staff canteen. It enables total mobility.
Advantage # 2 – Enabling BYOD
The increased mobility factor both enables and facilitates the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, which more and more businesses are now taking advantage of. Laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones that belong to individual employees are now being brought into the workplace and are being given access rights to the wireless network. As well, as making it more convenient for employees to carry out their tasks, BYOD also represents a potential cost saving, as businesses no longer have to fund the hardware cost of the devices themselves.
Advantage # 3 – Increased Productivity
Another important by-product of the increased mobility factor is that it promotes increased productivity, allowing employees to collaborate where and when they need to. It brings freedom of operation and speeds up the working process. But there is another factor too, and that is that employees take their device’s home with them, and can work, (as many do), in their own time when it’s convenient to do so.
Advantage # 4 – Public Wi-Fi - Hotspots
Wireless networking has also gone into the public domain, with Wi-Fi hotspots being available in many high street coffee shops, hotels, railway stations, airports, universities, hospitals, etc. It enables people to get onto the Internet when they’re away from the office, or away from home. People can pick up their emails, both social and business, and if their place of work allows, can also connect into the business network remotely.
Advantage # 5 – Scalability
One of the inherent problems with a wireless network is coping with expansion. Having to add additional cabling, and reroute existing cables, can be a disruptive and costly process. Whilst every company should plan ahead when installing a wireless network, it is almost impossible to forecast future requirements accurately unless sound planning is carried out.
There’s no such problem with a wireless network. Being able to add new users is no more difficult than having to issue a new password, and update the server accordingly. It’s fast, and it’s relatively convenient. It also means that offices can be relocated within the building with consummate ease, furniture can be readily moved around, and, of course, employees can sit wherever they need to.
Not only is it so much more convenient to add new users to a wireless network, but it seldom involves any additional expenditure.
Advantage # 6 – Guest Use
Having a wireless network also means that a business can provide secure network access to visiting colleagues from other sites within the organisation. It enables them to access the data they need and pick up and respond to their emails.
It also grants Internet access to visiting customers and suppliers. It’s now something that most business people who have reason to travel, have come to expect. It’s also how most public Wi-Fi hotspots grant Internet access to their guests.
Advantage # 7 – Using VoIP
Another one of the benefits of having a wireless network is that it can be used to make telephone calls using voice over Internet protocol. VoIP calls are often free, depending on the country and the devices you are calling, and are considerably cheaper than using conventional technology to make international calls.
Advantage # 8 – Wi-Fi is Cost Effective
Using wireless technology rather than having a hard wired network can be much more cost-effective. The larger the network, both in terms of area and users, the more expensive a hard wired network will be to install. It’s not just the amount of cabling, but the actual cost of the labour to install the raceways, and chase the cabling all through the premises; through walls, up and down different floors etc.
Once a wireless network is in place, and even if it costs a little more initially to install, maintenance costs are lower, and there are normally no additional costs involved in scaling up, unless the signal needs to be boosted.
Advantage # 9 – Health and Safety
Because there are no wires involved with a wireless connection, the potential risk of tripping over any trailing cables that wired connectivity requires, can be avoided altogether.
The many Advantages of Wireless
All things being considered, there are many significant advantages in having a wireless network in place, rather than a wired network. Where enhanced security and superfast operating speeds are not strictly necessary, the many benefits of increased mobility that wireless enables, can easily outweigh the restrictions that a wired network imposes.
The Best of both Worlds
Many companies are now introducing a limited or selective wireless network alongside their existing hard wired connection, in order to reap the benefits of both worlds. This does however have additional cost implications, but can be the ideal solution, especially for larger organisations.