Ten features of wireless networks that can benefit business
A wireless device can connect at any location within the range of a network, so therefore can staff and equipment. Examples:
- Workspaces can be rearranged without the need to physically change networks.
- Customers waiting in a lounge reception can connect to part of your network with information on your products and services.
- A visiting employee from another office chooses to share desks with several local employees while working on projects specific to each.
- Employees can work where convenient in ad hoc meetings that save time over arranging formal meetings in booked rooms.
- A public transport company provides a wireless network to passengers located anywhere in their vehicles.
- A mobile security camera is deployed to monitor different unpredictable locations on different days to deter and monitor problem behaviour.
- A small but critical item of equipment that is occasionally moved transmits its location so that it can be found quickly when needed.
A wireless device can transmit and/or receive data as it moves within the range of a network. Examples:
- Potential customers visiting a facility access videos on a tablet that explain how stages of a process they are being shown contribute to a product they are interested in, and can switch between live images of all process stages as they move about the facility.
- Employees are able to view and amend the details of orders they are receiving and despatching as they move about delivery vehicles, saving time by not having to revisit an office.
- A quality control officer accesses product specifications in a production environment to check conformance, and logs issues using images and voice notes that are uploaded in the background while moving between stations to assess.
- An employee receives an important email on a mobile device while walking to a client meeting that the email relates to. Still en route the employee quickly forwards the email with a short note asking a colleague for information that can help with this new development. The colleague sends the needed information in time to be used in the meeting.
- A live stock database is updated during an ad hoc stock check as the stock checker moves around a storage area.
- A production manager immediately checks the work in progress figures for parts that are seen to be running low at a stage on a production line, and emails a progress chaser to monitor the situation attaching a short video of the situation.
Wireless equipment can connect in locations that are difficult or not suitable to wire. Examples:
- Spaces where large numbers of transient people may need to be connected, such as retail environments, mass transport, waiting rooms, and restaurants.
- Workspaces such as heavy industrial facilities, where wires would be difficult to fit and/or would be prone to damage.
- Environments which change configuration often, such as entertainment venues and workshops dealing with a succession of varied projects.
- Environments likely to quickly degrade wired network equipment, such as those prone to vibration, high humidity, and extreme temperatures.
- Rooms needing minimal invasive features, such as operating theatres for hygiene reasons and spaces needing uninterrupted movement of air for efficient cooling.
- Spaces with aesthetic styling considerations, such as presentation suites and stage shows.
- Spaces that need to be permanently or periodically sealed-off, but where wires would not allow an effective seal, such as experimental and test environments.
Wireless networks can cover large spaces inside and out, permanently or temporarily. Examples:
- Shows, seminars, concerts, sporting events, public spaces, factories, galleries, museums, social clubs, hotels, spas, fetes and fairs.
The location and movements of connected wireless devices can be monitored. Examples:
- Processes and efficiency can be monitored by tracking the movement of products, equipment, and employees.
- Security personnel can track the movement of business assets and previously unknown wireless devices within a wireless network range.
- Lost wireless enabled equipment can be located quickly.
Devices can be connected by multiple wireless routes to ensure connectivity, and obviously radio waves are much less susceptible to damage. The more critical network connectivity is the important wireless connectivity is. Even where a wired connectivity method is in place an additional wireless method can provide extra connectivity guarantees. Examples:
- A company considers its internet connectivity to be 'business critical'. It supplements its wired internet connection with a wireless internet connection to guarantee service.
- A keynote speech by the CEO of a company at a presentation to important clients requires interactive use of IT. Multiple routes to connect the CEO wirelessly are provided to minimise any chance that the speech will be interrupted by technical problems.
- A key device in a business process must remain connected to the corporate database at all times. A wired network is supplemented to two wireless routes to guarantee connectivity.
Wireless networks are more adaptable to changing needs than wired networks, because the technology includes extra possibilities. Examples:
- Battery powered sensors can be deployed within the existing range of the wireless network to problematic stages of a process as soon as the need arises.
- Security cameras can be placed in new trouble spots without waiting for network cables to be installed.
- Staff are temporarily relocated while essential maintenance work takes place, but no network change are required to work in their new location.
- Network coverage can be quickly extended to areas as the need arises. It is possible that a new single piece of wireless network equipment can provide connections to a whole area.
- A temporary but intensive printing need arises for a secretary. The nearest printer is not close, so walking would waste a lot of time. Also that printer is shared with others in the office, so using it for this particular job is inconvenient for everyone. A temporary wireless printer is easily positioned next to the secretary.
Wireless networks need less frequent changes to manage additional devices that need connecting. Examples:
- Additional permanent and temporary staff can be connected and productive immediately without organisationally intensive, time consuming, and so costly network changes.
- A requirement for location tracking is identified, but a wireless network is already in place. The wireless network is able to provide the new information without physical changes.
More equipment can be connected wirelessly than is practical with wires, because many connections are as easy as a few connections.
Encrypted access can be controlled at the point of connection making wireless networks secure even within premises. In addition it is possible to detect, track the movement of, and block unknown but potentially rogue devices within the range of the network, even before they attempt to connect to the network.
Associated wireless technology advantages
Low power wireless networking
Some wireless network technologies have very low power usage. In some cases power requirements can be so low that equipment can operate for years on one battery, or can even draw the energy they need from their environment. So for example this creates possibilities for deploying sensors into difficult to access environments where continuous power supply and battery replacement are onerous or impossible, perhaps to transmit notifications of rare intermittent events. It also allows devices to remain switched on to receive information pushed to them and then initiate an action, such as to start a more energy intensive activity that cannot be left running - like announcing its location, or to display some information as it arrives.
Wireless battery charging at short range using induction is becoming more common, such as using the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi standard. Obtaining energy wirelessly at a distance is also possible using radio frequency technologies such as the rectenna. The combination of wireless local area networks with wireless energy will lead to increased convenience.