With each new office we build, the customer often asks, “Can’t we just be 100% wireless? Won’t that save us money?” In nearly every scenario, the answer is no.
Newer is often better in the tech world, but it isn’t always the case. Wireless networking has advantages over wired networks and the technology continues to improve, but in most cases the performance and cost simply won’t eclipse plain old wires.
Wireless networking is largely a convenience, and should not be thought of as a way to save money. Completely wire-free solutions have significant disadvantages, and you’ll always have some wires to contend with. After all, we still need those power cables, right?
Plugging a cable to your laptop when you’re at your desk is easy, smart and reliable, plus it’s fast – 10 Gigabit speed on wired vs. the 450 Megabit per second theoretical single channel speed of 5Ghz 802.11ac networks is a huge difference (over 20x faster, if you’re not up on your giga/mega conversion ratios).
But Isn’t Wireless Less Expensive?
At a first glance, it may seem so – but probably not. Factors outside of the hardware expenses must also be considered. For instance, if your wireless network’s connection speed is 20x slower than wired, your network is running at less than optimal speeds – which has a direct impact on your staff’s efficiency. With a slower network, you’re paying more in payroll to get the same work done.
Then there’s the rapid-fire pace of advancement in wireless technology. The manufacturers of wireless networking equipment are marketing incremental hardware improvements to make their quarterly numbers. The average lifespan of the equipment that is already in use in your IT closet is 6 years, but wifi gear is much more frequently refreshed. So the focus is to push faster and faster WiFi gear for fresh sales.
Simply put: If you need speed and dependable connection for multiple machines, wired is still the way to go for cost and speed.
OK, But Wireless Will Get There Soon Right?
Wireless will improve in terms of both price and performance, but still can’t compete with the speed and reliability of wired networks. It will never be as fast, or as reliable, as wired networks; that’s on the laws of physics, not us.
Also, keep in mind that over-investing in WiFi gear today potentially means forklifting out expensive widgets tomorrow. As we mentioned, the wireless tech sector is very volatile. New specs and new features are added every 8 months on average, and you’ll typically need new hardware to take advantage of all the bells and whistles.
So get ready to redo your “cheaper” wireless system every two years, and just remember that cables are forever – or at least 10-15 years; which in tech terms, is forever.
Making the Right Choice for Your Business
The needs of each business are different, and a wireless network may be a good fit if it is able to sustain the bandwidth requirements dictated by your workflows and the tools you use. When performing a network surveys for our clients, we employ several methods to determine if a wireless network can meet your particular requirements – all of which follow the cornerstones of our network design principles: stability, security, and scalability.
First, we learn about your business – the tools and software you depend on, current bandwidth uses and bottlenecks, structural and environment-related limitations. Next, one of our network technicians maps your existing network, using tools such as Ekahau to visualize your existing network to find ways to improve performance.
With this information, we craft a network that is rock-solid, secure, and allows you to be prepared for what’s next. Whether you are looking for a fresh start or upgrading your current network, Valiant is ready to provide you with the right solution.
Need a hand finding the right fit for your business? We can help.