Wireless, the preferred connectivity option for enterprise

January 2, 2021 0 Comments

For enterprise companies, Wi-Fi is not the slow, dumpy cousin of network connections any more. Had I made the same claim a year ago, or even six months ago, it might have been pretty contentious. As of mid-July, given the new 802.11ac Wave 2 standard, it’s just the way it is.

Just look at Telus, one of Canada’s biggest telecom enterprises, which was recently recognized for its green-friendly new office tower in the heart of Vancouver’s downtown tech hub. While newspaper reporters mainly focused on the building’s solar panels, rainwater collection and LEED platinum rating, one of the structure’s most cutting-edge advances was practically invisible (and hence, got less notice): employees at the building can access fast and reliable Wi-Fi not only private meeting rooms and mobile work stations, but also kitchens, common areas, open spaces and large outdoor terraces, enabling them to collaborate anywhere. The key difference being that users will get the equivalent of wired network reliability and performance everywhere in that building!

The message from this? When it comes to network design, Wi-Fi networks are now ready for mission-critical enterprise business requirements.

While mobile hardware companies will be racing to catch up to offer the new standard on their devices, enterprise companies will be some of the first customers who will embrace wireless network connections for their enterprises.

What the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard means for Wi-Fi network design

Gigabit Wi-Fi has arrived, explains TechRepublic:

“The PHY (physical) rate, which in turn affects the throughput rate of data transfer, is much higher in Wave 2. Wave 1 PHY rate maxes out at 1.3 Gbps, while Wave 2 can be 2.34 Gbps. Even if the throughput was 50% lower than the theoretical PHY rate for Wave 2, in theory it would still be above 1 Gbps.”

“802.11ac also gets better performance than 802.11n through a combination of improved modulation, which offers more bits on the air per units of frequency and time; beamforming, or the ability to focus transmitted energy in a particular direction, improving throughput, reliability and, where required, range; and wider radio channels that are defined only in the relatively underutilized 5 GHz unlicensed bands. – from TechTarget

What that technical explanation means is that Wi-Fi operating according to the new standard will be able to robustly and reliably support more devices with greater bandwidth.

This is a game-changer for Wi-Fi connectivity. Until now, the medium was seen as a ‘nice to have’ option for businesses of all sizes when it comes to network engineering. Wi-Fi at a business would augment a company’s copper wire Internet infrastructure. That physical infrastructure was the go-to method to deliver performance and reliability.

Now, Wi-Fi is set to become the core connectivity method. For those of us in the business of setting up hardwired networks, we’ve known the change was coming for some time – and we’re excited about the possibilities.

How Wi-Fi network design will benefit enterprise companies

Traditionally, when we build out hardwired networks at offices, we have to do a lot of pre-planning for where to put the copper, ports to support desks and other considerations. This can get complicated when you’re dealing with a collection of offices, desks and cubes.

As you’ve probably noticed, the business office is changing. More companies are adopting open, flexible workspaces (like the Telus example cited above). When employees can work wherever they feel most productive, you can boost capacity and workplace morale at the same time. Business experts have known for a while that simple workplace environment design changes can have a huge impact on output.

As an added benefit, it is far cheaper for companies to create Wi-Fi networks than deploy hardwired infrastructure. (In the past, you had to pay to play – but now the barrier to entry will be far lower).

The biggest stumbling block for creating such environments, a lack of reliable Internet connectivity over Wi-Fi, is done.

More and more, companies will be looking to their offices not as real estate, but as communication tools to boost their workforces’ performance through network engineering.

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