As a 21st century human, I love wireless. It’s one of the greatest technological innovations of the last several years. Eliminating the physical connection to the internet has given internet users unprecedented freedom and changed the way we retrieve and interact with information. I can now simultaneously order burritos from my computer, remind Alexa to add eggs to my shopping list, stream Netflix on my TV, and check Instagram on my phone without having to rearrange living room furniture in search of an empty wall jack.
As a 21st century I.T. guy, I hate wireless. No matter how many rabbits we pull out of our hat to make it work, wireless remains a source of complaint. Common issues include slow speeds and dropped connections. And don’t even get me started on wireless printing.
Wireless is perfect to binge watch Stranger Things from bed at home, but is it a good solution for business? Here are a few reasons why you should avoid ripping the wires out of your office:
- Speed. Wireless is slower than wired. Though wireless speeds have increased considerably over the years, they still fall well short of the speeds afforded by wired connections. Gigabit wireless now exists, but so too do 10 gigabit wired connections.
- Reliability. Wireless is less reliable than wired. Interference–caused by anything from air conditioning units to microwaves to nearby access points–can cause signals to drop and speeds to fluctuate wildly. It is for this reason that we do not recommend wireless printing for business use. For outdoor wireless, everything from rain to wind can affect signal quality. Wired connections are more stable, more reliable, and less prone to interference.
- Density. Wireless performance depends on the number of users connected to the access point. Available bandwidth is divided by the number of devices attached. The larger the number of connected devices, the less bandwidth there is for each device. Have you ever tried using wireless at a crowded venue?
- Construction. Wireless quality depends on building construction. Walls, whether they be sheet rock or cinder block, degrade signal quality. The more walls there are between you and the access point, the weaker your signal is going to be. Metal objects, like wall studs and ventilation ducts, can reflect wireless signals and wreak all sorts of wireless havoc.
- Security. Wireless is an easy target for hackers. A big problem with wireless is that the signal is broadcast out into the open. That’s why we do not recommend connecting to the free wireless at Starbuck’s.
The only reason to use wireless is for convenience. Wireless–especially wireless printing–is better suited for the home. In the office, wireless is best used for connecting smartphones or for creating a separate network for guests. A perfect example is a waiting room in a doctor’s office.
In today's fast-paced world of business, performance trumps convenience. Wire might not be sexy, but they work, and they'll keep your business from falling behind.