Wireless seems to be a no-brainer choice when it comes to choosing a network for your small business. Wireless access has become so common that many of us find ourselves a bit miffed when we’re “left stranded” without Wi-Fi. But when you’re a small business owner just starting out or thinking about re-configuring your network, the decision to choose wired or wireless networking is far from obvious.
Wireless is often the default recommendation of business technology consultants because it’s perceived to be cost effective compared to wiring an entire facility and its workstations. Many small to mid-sized businesses go with a wireless network because it lets them share a single Internet connection while accessing communal files, peripherals and software. Set up a few access points and voila—everything is connected and accessible from outside of your four walls. Employees are more productive and data is stored centrally.
Wireless networked offices are tidy and neat environments since cables don’t connect the workstations. Employees’ workspaces aren’t limited to where network wires can reach or already exist. Plus, there’s the liability to consider if an employee or customer trips over the wires. And there is the draw of being able to offer Wi-Fi access to customers as a perk.
Sounds exactly like what business, large or small, needs, right? Slow down (most likely which is what you’ll have to do with a wireless network anyway)…
…unfortunately, wireless networks can result in the opposite of your expectations. Contrary to popular belief, workstations connected through wired networks can be less expensive to set up. In terms of reliability and speed? Well, wired networks are more dependable and often have speedier connections.
Signal strength fluctuates for a variety of reasons such as your building’s walls and layout to a stormy day. Just as irritating not having Wi-Fi access at all is getting a message that the network can’t be accessed or is unavailable. Expect that because all devices and workstations and even cordless phones are vying for the wireless access point’s signal. When small businesses choose wireless, they discover they must upgrade their broadband service too.
While nobody enjoys looking at, being tethered to or tripping over wires, the wiring can be any length, inconspicuous and hidden safely away from walking paths.
Going with a wireless network isn’t a black and white decision after all. Regardless of which direction you go, keep in mind that updated workstations are easier to network than outdated ones since Windows and Apple operating systems have built-in networking capabilities. Also, either way, it’s crucial to ensure your network—wired or wireless—is secure and well protected by enabling the security settings on the access point or operating system.
Wireless security is easily cracked. A wireless encryption key is not enough. We recommend double and even triple security levels that require users to enter user names and passwords beyond the initial login. All mobile devices accessing your wireless network should have to be registered before access is allowed. Together, these steps help avoid the risk of unauthorized users hacking into your network and causing mayhem.
Like all major business decisions, going wired versus a wireless network depends on your business, not the trend. A wired network is the smarter choice for a majority of companies, but those with a mobile workforce like warehouses, etc. definitely benefit from wireless.
At Invision, we install, maintain and troubleshoot both wireless and wired networks in all types of industries. If you are interested in learning more about our small business networking services or need help deciding which is best for your company, just give us a call at (913) 962-6674 or contact us online.