Sometimes technology is created that was never meant to work. Many of today’s low end printers include wireless network connectivity. While wireless connectivity for printers may be a good thing in your house, it is the source of intense pain for our technical staff and clients. We recently amended our service agreement Statements of Work to specifically exclude printers connected to networks with wireless connections. Why does it seem that printers connected with wireless network connections tend to work at home, and not at the office?
The nature of home and business networks provides the answers. In a home network, there are not normally a dozen other access points and other sources of wireless interference that can disrupt a wireless network connection. In a business setting, particularly in multi-tenant spaces, there are often a dozen or more access points in range to fight for bandwidth, with an untold list of other sources of wireless interference that can disrupt wireless network traffic. If a wireless connection to a printer gets disrupted during printing or takes a printer offline, then the print job is going to be stopped.
The second factor that impacts wireless printing pain is the number of people trying to print to the wireless connected printer. In a home network, it isn’t often that two or more people are trying to print to the printer. In a business environment, it isn’t uncommon for a dozen or more people to print to a printer. The increase in the number of print jobs sent to the printer increases the likelihood that a print job is sent to a printer when the printer is offline due a wireless network connection disruption. If someone can’t print immediately on a business network, our help desk phone line starts ringing.
Another factor in wireless printer frustration is the business need to print. If a staff member is working on a project and tries to print out the a copy of their work effort and the printer doesn’t work, not only is the employee disrupted, but normally two other employees get drawn in to solve the problem. How does that happen? If the staff member is not the company’s technology person, they are going to reach out to the technology person to try and help make the printer print. When that staff member can’t get it to work, the office manager or owner gets drawn in, so a printer problem quickly impacts the productivity of three people. A single wireless connected printing problem can easily cost a company over $100 per event in lost productivity, not to mention technical support fees that may get charged for help. At its worst, printing problems like this happen weekly or monthly multiplying the lost productivity cost. For less than $200, a physical network connection can be installed that will eliminate the problem – a pretty good return on investment!
In conclusion, never ever setup a wireless connected printer on a business network.
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