The modern workplace is quickly evolving to better serve an increasingly mobile workforce and customer base. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives are introducing about three wireless devices per employee into the workplace. Mobile unified communications has improved the quality and speed of collaboration and customer service. With 1.4 billion smartphones in use at the end of 2013, all with Wi-Fi connectivity, organizations have the opportunity to engage customers in new and personal ways. None of these trends would be possible without the emergence of high-performance wireless LANs (WLANs).
WLANs based upon the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11n standard deliver raw data speeds of 450Mbps. Because 802.11n doubles channel width to 40MHz and uses more of the wireless spectrum than older standards, organizations can use high-bandwidth applications such as video and Voice over IP (VoIP) with minimal interference. 802.11n also incorporates MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology, which uses multiple paths to transfer more data simultaneously. MIMO also boosts bandwidth and increases the Wi-Fi coverage area to 150 feet or more.
The next generation of this standard is the significantly faster 802.11ac, also called Gigabit Wi-Fi because it can theoretically transfer data at a rate of up to 6.9Gbps. 802.11ac doubles channel width again, from 40MHz to 80MHz, and utilizes the 5Ghz band rather than the more congested 2.4GHz band. This makes much higher throughput possible with less interference. 802.11ac also uses multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology to efficiently allocate bandwidth to various devices according to need.
In addition to providing fast, reliable wireless connectivity, a high-performance WLAN has a number of business benefits. A robust wireless infrastructure is capable of providing connectivity to stationary users as well as mobile users who require the flexibility of anytime, anywhere access to data and applications on virtually any device.
This type of decentralized architecture is easily scalable, with each additional access point capable of providing the same features and performance. Organizations don’t have to go through the costly process of installing or upgrading cabling from the network core to the end-user. Instead, users can simply use the WLAN infrastructure to access network resources.
As app-centric mobile devices become primary computing tools and Wi-Fi becomes the primary means for network access, organizations must determine whether their IT infrastructure is capable of supporting these trends. Can this infrastructure meet the demands of the mobile applications relied upon so heavily by today’s employees? How are you going to balance security and privacy for employees who use their devices for both job-related functions and personal reasons?
Atlantic-IT.net, your outsourced IT department, understands the opportunities and challenges created by mobility. Let us help you ensure your WLAN is ready to meet the demands of today’s mobile workforce and explain the options for managing your IT environment.