Wireless Connectivity

Wired vs. Wireless LAN: Which is best for your business? (Part 2 of 2)


Part 2: Diving Deeper on Wired and Wireless LANs

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the difference between Wired and Wireless LANs, their advantages and disadvantages. In Part 2, we'll discuss how WLANs are distributed throughout a building and the security considerations that need to be accounted for.

What are Wireless Access Points (WAP)?

A wireless access point (WAP) is a device that allows you to distribute your wireless network access. They are the equivalent of your home Wi-Fi router, though they have much more complex capabilities. WAPs connect to your network router with an ethernet cable and are often powered by Power Over Ethernet (POE) technology. This eliminates the need for a local AC power source at each WAP location.

A WAP creates an area where devices can connect to your network and access the internet. This makes it possible for multiple users in the same vicinity and on different devices to connect at once, quickly and easily accessing resources. A WAP simplifies the process of sharing information without having to run cables to each individual device, which is expensive and time-consuming.

Multiple WAPs are typically positioned throughout a building (often hidden above ceiling tiles) to provide seamless coverage throughout the desired coverage area. Network architects use special software to map out the optimal locations to provide consistent coverage for users as they move around the building.

Weatherproof WAPs are available to provide coverage in outdoor areas like patios.

Can both wired LANs and Wireless/WLANS be used on the same network?

The short answer is yes, though it depends on your network equipment and how you intend to use it. If both need to be used simultaneously, a router connected to multiple wireless access points is required. This allows devices such as tablets and smartphones to connect via WLANS, while laptops or desktops can utilize LAN cables where they are available.

Example:

A local restaurant uses a hybrid LAN/WLAN. Their hardwired network devices include PCs, printers, VoIP phone stations, primary reservation/seating terminal, and POS workstations.

Their WLAN supports their background music control system (iPad), mobile reservation/seating devices (iPad), wireless IP phones, wireless ticket printers, and guest Wi-Fi (password access).

The critical thing to remember When considering adding WLANs to your wired LAN, you must be sure that you have a router with enough available ports to connect each of the necessary wireless access points. Users in buildings with too few or poorly positioned wireless access points are likely to experience signal loss and dead spots.

It's important to note that heavy wireless traffic can eat up bandwidth and may require you to upgrade your network hardware or data circuit to accommodate this increased traffic.

VoIP voice traffic that shares your primary network connection will need to be prioritized over data traffic to maintain a high level of voice quality for your employees and customers.

Don't forget about security!

Whether you use a hardwired LAN, a wireless WLAN, or a combination of the two, it is vital to consider the impact of each on your network security.

The restaurant mentioned above had an unsecured guest Wi-Fi when they first opened for business. Nine months after opening, an apartment building opened just across the street. One of the new residents of the apartment was able to access the internet over the restaurant's Wi-Fi and illegally downloaded a Hollywood movie. The restaurant was issued a warning and threatened with a copyright infringement lawsuit by the movie studio if there were any more illegal downloads. By the time the notice was received, the same person had downloaded two more movies illegally.

The solution was to quickly lock down their guest Wi-Fi and move all guest traffic to a password-protected VLAN (Virtual LAN). This kept guest traffic confined to its own path to the internet and isolated it from business-related network traffic.

Security measures also need to be taken to prevent access to sensitive business data like credit card numbers, bank information, and personnel information. A managed services solution with provide you with robust network access while securing your data and protecting your business.

Conclusion

Ultimately, both wired and wireless network technologies have their benefits. Consider what type of network solution would provide a more significant benefit given your current situation before deciding which one to use within your office space.

In general, wired LAN connections are faster than wireless, but they require a physical connection to the router with an Ethernet cable.

Wireless connections can be set up anywhere within your office or building, but you may experience slower speeds if too many people are connected at once.

We're here to help you assess your needs and match them to a technology solution that fits those needs and provides your business with robust and reliable connectivity. Our staff of IT professionals is ready to get started on optimizing your business communication.

 

Give us a call today at 763.475.5500 or email us at ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com to learn more about how affordable and easy securing your business data can be. We've got a full suite of solutions that will keep your business secure from the inside out!

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