The All Wireless Office

23rd November 2016 – Written by Iain Vipas

Streamlining the workplace can sometimes not be as simple as we hope. With a more mobile workforce involving “hot desks” or multiple sites, companies are having to rely more and more on network infrastructure, and wireless in particular. People don’t have the time to move across the office, crawl under the desk to find the end of the network cable and plug in anymore, they want to move around the office and remain connected, all the time. 

Everybody is becoming increasingly “Tech Savvy” which has made wireless far more critical, and we’re far more reliant on our wireless than we would like to admit. Since the rise of the Local Area Network (LAN), it has, understandably, become the foundation of all company networks. Connecting PCs, printers, and multiple other resources around the office, using thousands of metres of cables in an office has always been a major part of the IT departments responsibilities, and probably accounts for far too much of their financial budget. 

As things are progressing, we are starting to move more of our business to the cloud based management, including critical applications, the demands for increased mobility and more throughput is rising. There are even talks of bringing fibre to the desktop. So, while the war of copper vs fibre wages on, a completely wireless office (All Wireless Office or Wireless Workplace depending on who you talk to) has started to creep up instead.

When looking at changing to a solely wireless approach, there are several factors to consider. The management of each network, deploying real time applications (possibly using voice and/or video), and any higher capacity of users (that comes with everyone now having multiple devices on site), have the potential to cause integration headaches. Everybody’s expectations for wireless are also higher than they have ever been. Using feedback in the hospitality sector as a prime example, people will actively avoid a hotel if there are reviews that the wireless in either poor or nonexistent. So if this is the impact from people who are potentially checking emails, playing games, and watching the latest video of people falling over on YouTube, what kind of response can you expect from someone that is reliant on the network to hit targets or commission figures?

The key question to consider, I have found, is whether “you want an all-wireless office or an all-wireless user experience? Do you want no wires at all, or the capacity to untether your employees so they are able to work in the way that best suits them?” 

Reading thoughts on the all wireless office, opinion is divided. Losing the Ethernet in the office is probably not something you will see in the near future, but having wireless appliances (scanners, printers, laptops, speakers, phones etc.) is already taking over most offices. As the number of wireless clients like this grow on the network, previously deployed wireless networks can no longer stand up to the requirements being placed upon them. 

So do you stick to hardwired devices, and save the upgrade costs? Or do you upgrade the wireless, step up the wireless standard installed. Looking at the 802.11ac wave 2 devices currently available, and their potential to use MU-MIMO (Multi User – Multiple Input Multiple Output) in the future, combined with the ability to offer higher throughput per access point (up to 2.5Gbps in some instances), it is definitely worth considering. 

DigitalAir Wireless are able to offer fully supported managed services for WLAN networks. With options for 3 and 5 years, you can install the latest technology now at a more affordable OPEX cost. Then as new hardware becomes available, at the end of your term, upgrade your technology to always remain ahead of the client technology curve.

Article categories: Indoor Wireless


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