Structured IT cabling is the design and installation of a cabling system that will support multiple hardware uses both today and in the future.
Wired vs. Wireless Network: Which is Better?
To be Wired or Wireless? That is the question when it comes to network options for your business.
Deciding on whether to have a wired or wireless network can be challenging for decision makers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and knowing the differences between them will help you decide which is best for your business. Both wired and wireless networks require robust structured cabling. The main difference between the two is where the cables are located in your space, and how your devices connect. So, let us dig into some of the differences between the two.
A wired network is where you physically plug your computer or docking station into an ethernet cord or wall jack. You would not be connecting to wireless internet in this case. This can be quite a bit less convenient but there are advantages to this type of network.
Reliability and Stability: Wired networks are generally more stable and reliable. When you are physically connected to the internet (not wi-fi) the chance of losing connection or experiencing latency issues is much lower. Signal interference compromises stability, as well as physical interference like walls or objects nearby.
Visibility: A wired network is not visible to other wired networks. This allows for no interference with the connection, and simultaneously the network nodes still communicate with other nodes on the network to facilitate effective data transfer/ storage over the network.
Speed: Wired networks are generally much faster than wireless networks. In buildings where there are concrete walls or other obstructions to wireless signals, physical connections will be much faster and more reliable. A wired network is also much faster given that it will not be slowed down by any outside/ unexpected traffic. Unauthorized users are unable to connect to the network unless their device is connected using an Ethernet cable.
Security: With the protection of firewalls and other security devices, a wired network is broadly protected. Daily business operations are performed using correct ports, network monitoring, and a wired connection with security technologies.
Please refer to our past blog on Cabled Network and Security Management for more information.
Cost: The hardware required for a wired network often has a longer lifecycle than a wireless network. There may be less hardware needed which can reduce cost.
Taking the above into account, let us dig into some DISADVANTAGES of using a wired network.
Lack of mobility takes the lead. A wired network creates an environment where you cannot pick up your laptop and move to a different location in your space. You are forced to work where there is a cable to connect to the internet. This can make collaboration with colleagues difficult very difficult.
Installation: Network installation can be a much longer process and is ideally done at the very beginning of construction. Not only does the installation process take a lot of time, but the end user side of routers, switches, and hubs can require security and firewall components as well. If you are expanding or adding an employee, you will need to add cable drops for them to connect.
Maintenance: Maintenance to the physical server of the network requires consistent attention to maintain connectivity, capacity, storage, and workload. You will likely need to have a full time Infrastructure team to monitor a wired network.
Wires: Visible wiring is not aesthetically pleasing. Unless installed and maintained professionally, your office can become a mess of cables. Exposed cables and cords can be a hazard in the workplace or be accidentally disconnected by office workers/ cleaning crews.
There is a good balance of pros and cons to a wired network. Now let us consider a wireless network, which is much more popular in workspaces today.
Wireless Networks operate by transmitting specific radio frequency signals. These signals allow wireless enabled devices to communicate with each other and the internet, without having to be connected through a physical cable or ethernet. So, let us dig into the advantages and disadvantages of wireless networks
Cost: The cost of wireless is largely based on the amount of space where connectivity is needed. Structured cabling and all associated hardware are still needed, but less cable drops, and wall jacks are necessary. Cost is an advantage of both wired and wireless in our explanation due to the subjectivity of the hardware. The cost of wireless depends largely on your unique business and the amount of wireless access points (WAPs), routers and other hardware you require.
Installation: While initial structured cabling installation is extensive, adding or upgrading wireless systems is much easier. When you are expanding or adding employees you do not need to do as much disruptive physical work. It can be as simple as running a single cable to add a WAP to a new office or cubicle area. Which is considerably easier than installing wall jacks into each new space.
Mobility: Seamless. Freedom. Mobile to all levels. Self-explanatory to say the least, however wireless connection allows office workers the flexibility to accesses the network from any location on any device. Guests can easily join a public wi-fi connection and collaboration can be done anywhere connectivity is present.
Visibility: One network is visible to the other which can affect the performance of your connection. Because the networks can see one another, the possibility of interference by other wireless enabled devices or obstructions is higher. Additionally, the nodes or connectivity points on a wireless network cannot hear the other nodes on a single network. This can compromise the performance and quality of connection.
Security: Hot topic and of high importance. Truth: wireless networks are less secure than wired. Communication signals being transmitted through the air/ radio waves are far more likely to get intercepted if the proper encryption (security) technologies are not in place. However, many security options are available so wireless internet can be very safe.
Speed: While wireless internet keeps getting faster and faster, a hardwired connection will always be the fastest option. Hybrid configuration is always an option for internet connectivity, meaning you can have wireless internet along with some areas where you can hardwire in.
Reliability & Stability: Finally, reliability and stability of wireless networks are prone to interference by other networks, wireless enabled devices, and objects such as walls that can obstruct the connection. The strength of the connection can vary from place to place, and the design of your network makes all the difference. It is important to have a professional provider install your network to ensure your space has even and reliable connectivity.
Again, to be wired or to be wireless?
At the end of the day there is no wrong or right answer because every business is unique. Factors such as security measures, need for consistent connection, cost and size all play a part in this decision. If you work in the stock market and need 100% consistency to make trades, a wired connection would be an obvious choice for you. If you work for a design company where you frequently move around the office to collaborate, you will need the flexibility that wireless provides. A hybrid model is always an option and is the most common.
Reach out to us at ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com or call 763-475-5500 if you have questions about wired or wireless networks. We can help you decide what will work best for you or simply answer any questions you have