The Office of the Future: Wireless

» Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

A new WiFi (wireless) protocol will be ratified by the U.S. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The new generation of WiFi is called 802.11ac. This new technology should, within an interference-free room, transmit over 1 Gbits/s. This will bring three times more speed when compared to the current fastest WiFi standard of 802.11n. The new 802.11ac will transmit wireless signals on the 5 GHz band, providing a larger range, and faster throughput for multiple HD video streams and more. It also has much more power for transmission penetrating walls.

Why is this exciting?

Until now, wireless data and voice have been treated as an adjunct to a business local area network (LAN). WiFi LAN’s have in the past proven to be problematic to implement and have had issues with slow data throughput and with providing complete and uniform coverage. A big problem with legacy WiFi is the “hand off” that takes place as you move from the range of one access point (AP) to the next.

The new WiFi technology has overcome these problems so that today a business can use a pervasive all wireless LAN that provide employees with anywhere anytime access from any device to any and all business critical applications.

This doesn’t mean that employees must stay connected constantly, but rather that they never be out of touch again when they need to. The all wireless office today can now provide the same robust communications of a wired office, but with the additional advantages of the convenience of mobility at a substantial cost savings to the cost of office infrastructure.

The single biggest cost savings of a wireless office is the elimination of having to spend money on moves, ads and changes (MACS) within the office. Also, there are fewer wires to pull, and fewer switch ports to consume.

Today, with the new WiFi technology, a business can not only have their voice and data networks on a wireless network; they can also have their CCTV, video conferencing, and even implement asset tracking with radio frequency identity (RFID) all on the same WiFi network.

The wireless voice is now the same quality and as reliable as hard wired phones are. The new generation smart cell phones are now equipped with WiFi as well as cellular capabilities so that you may use these phones in the office on your WiFi network, and as soon as you leave you office, the phone then seamlessly switches over to the cellular network. This may provide substantial savings on your cell phone bills.

Asset tracking can save your business thousands of dollars if you are encountering losses of laptops or tools in your business.

That’s great you may say, but common wisdom is that wireless is not appropriate for businesses because it is not secure. Anyone may intrude into a wireless LAN and obtain valuable proprietary information.

This has been true in that past. Today however, the manufacturers of wireless LAN solutions have provided complete security solutions for your business. It would be too much to go into detail in this article of how these WiFi networks provide security for the networks. Your WiFi provider can give you the details.

There are several manufacturers that offer wireless solutions today. They are not all equal. Some have different features and capabilities than others. The costs are different as well. Some brands are better suited for large implementations, and some more suited for the small business. I would encourage you to have a look at a few before deciding which one is best for your business. Brands include Cisco, HP, Aruba, Meru, Sonicwall and Dlink.

Before you commit to any wireless solution of any brand or from any vendor you should ask for references and a site tour of an implemented system if possible. Some manufacturers and vendors can offer a trial demo at your business. This is an excellent way to get a comfortable feeling of whether that product is suited for your business.

If you are unsure about the cost of a wireless system, ask your vendor for a Return on Investment analysis. You should consider the costs of wiring your business for voice, and data (and CCTV if needed). How much do you spend on MACS in a year? Would the ability for your staff to collaborate in real time increase their productivity? Would asset tracking prevent losses?

It is too early to know how much wireless will penetrate the business community. I suspect that this will become one of those displacement technologies that will become the norm for businesses in less than a decade. The advantages and cost savings are too compelling for a business to ignore.

Stephen Leber

 

1 Comment

  1. Nice blog on The Office of the Future: Wireless! Check mine out too when you have time 🙂

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