So, you're implementing Wi-Fi in your office. Does that mean that everything needs to be WiFi?
Despite having many advantages over wired networks, Wi-Fi isn't a magic bullet solution. Desktop WiFi, especially in large deployments, can quickly create new problems that are, frankly, usually best-solved by leaving wires in place.
So at least based on current technology (which of course changes rapidly) we tend to suggest that a company eschew full desktop WiFi implementation and save WiFi for the devices that truly need it, like tablets.
5 Reasons To Leave Your Desktops Wired For Now
1 - Lag \ Responsiveness
Even the most advanced WiFi networks, like those running "virtualized" OSes without a central controller, have serious scaling issues at the high end. While Wi-Fi is good enough speed-wise for most implementations, once you get into hundreds of thousands of devices, low-latency routing becomes a serious issue without many good solutions.
This can even cause spiraling problems: A desktop boots, and can't get access to the network. So the network drives don't map. And the anti-virus doesn't boot. And their shared folders are gone. So the worker is basically sitting there, useless, until all this happens.
A proper wired network typically won't have these issues.
2 - Power-over-Ethernet Requirements
An increasing number of WiFi appliances actually require cabled connections for full functionality, specifically because they need the extra electricity that PoE/PoE+ can provide. There are several lines of switches and routers this is already true of, and that number is likely to grow.
Worse, such requirements are often poorly-documented or non-obvious when looking at product information. A WiFi-only business could easily end up buying a piece of equipment that's crippled without having a wired connection to it.
3 - Access Point Considerations
Access points can quickly become a cost sink for a large group implementing Wi-Fi, especially if they're also expecting a high number of BYOD users bringing multiple outside devices to work. Every device requires its own connection and IP address. Unit-for-unit, it's usually more cost-effective to deploy high-capacity wired switches rather than installing more and more access points.
Plus, more access points brings another potential problem into play...
4 - Interference Problems
At the moment, simple airwave congestion is becoming an issue for desktop Wi-Fi implementations. Nearly all WiFi devices currently on the market utilize the 2.4ghz or 5.6ghz wavelengths... along with nearly all cordless phones, tablets, Bluetooth keyboards and mice and, well, pretty much anything that's "wireless."
You don't need to be an electronics engineer to know that more devices on the same frequencies will create more interference. This, in turn, reduces speeds, increases lag time, and means installing even more APs... which means even more interference.
This is an issue that will (hopefully) be lessened in the future once 60ghz 802.11d devices become common, but that's still at least a year or two away. Plus, they'll be very expensive at first, creating a big barrier to adoption.
5 - Faster Connections
There's no need to belabor an obvious point, but it's still worth keeping in mind: Wireless transfer speeds will necessarily lag behind cables, and especially fiber lines, for the foreseeable future. Desktop WiFi systems will be inherently limiting, especially if your workers are dealing in high-bandwidth projects.
Again, this may not be a concern for smaller operations... but do you really want to tie yourself to a format that guarantees you'll be running at speeds slower than cables can provide?
Think Before You Rip Those Wires
It's tempting to go all-in on WiFi and eliminate your cabling issues once and for all. Unfortunately, this may be opening you up to costly problems in the future.
If you're uncertain what the best upgrade path for the future is, contact Hummingbird Networks! We'll give you a free consultation on your network needs to ensure you install the right network for today AND tomorrow.
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