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  • Dan Cummins

Is Wired Better than Wireless for an Office?

Updated: May 25, 2022


Even in today's ever-changing technological landscape, even simple questions can be more complex than they appear. If you're in charge of an office and dealing with the question of whether to go wired or wireless, here are some points to consider.

 

It's no secret that a wired office has numerous advantages.


Primarily, it is almost always faster from a data throughput perspective. While this may not be immediately noticeable while reading or sending emails, it almost certainly will be when using apps that require large amounts of data transfer over the local network, such as a locally-hosted Quickbooks file or working with videos or other large-file media. Wired offices require less maintenance other than the initial cable install. In warehouses or manufacturing scenarios, relying on a wireless solution can be unpredictable when large amounts of machinery or other materials are being moved around. Naturally, the largest hurdle of a wired office is the labor-intensive nature of running cat6 cables all over a building. As modern construction tends to incorporate ethernet wiring into plans from their inception, this is increasingly less of an issue. However, when looking at an older facility or a home, the prospect of wiring up a building with unsightly cat6 cables can be a deal-breaker both in terms of cost and aesthetics.


- "Clearly the advantage goes to wireless when it comes to mobility and flexibility." -


Any office that employs primarily laptop computers would do well to invest in a robust wireless network, otherwise the requirement of users to plug in so they can work would negate the mobility benefits of using a laptop in the first place. Furthermore, as wireless technology continues to evolve and get faster, the ability of power users to work completely wirelessly is getting closer. Combine this with the popularity of open floorplans and co-working spaces, and the advantages are even more clear. The main caveat towards wireless is that building composition must be taken into consideration. Kitchens full of stainless steel appliances, aluminum studs inside walls, and HVAC infrastructures are all potential obstacles to effective wireless communication. As such, the perceived cost/labor gains from choosing a wireless office may not be as significant as many office planners would hope. Cable still has to be run (although not as much), and SSIDs need to be properly configured and secured.


Ultimately, what tends to work the best is a hybrid approach. While, there are many scenarios, especially in non-standard or older buildings, where the ability to simply run more cables is not an option, the materials and labor invested in wiring up a previously un-wired office are almost never a bad investment. The principle of 'buy once, cry once' is an important factor here. Wireless units, even current generation, will eventually be last-generation, and require firmware updates and maintenance that cost-wise may outweigh the intially easier choice to go wireless. What we tend to recommend to most offices is an approach to use wired connections when at all possible, and wireless if necessary.

- AIS


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