Guide

Wireless technology

Pros and cons of wireless networking

Wireless networks or WiFi (as wireless connections are commonly known) have a number of key business advantages over wired networks.

Increased efficiency

Improved data communications lead to faster transfer of information within businesses and between partners and customers. For example, salespeople can remotely check stock levels and prices while on sales calls.

Access and availability

Because wireless technology allows the user to communicate while on the move, you are rarely out of touch - you don't need extra cables or adaptors to access office networks.

Flexibility

Office-based wireless workers can network without sitting at dedicated computers and can continue to do productive work while away from the office. This can lead to new styles of working, such as home working or direct access to corporate data while on customer sites. See more on employees working from home.

Cost savings

Wireless networks can be easier and cheaper to install, especially in listed buildings or where the landlord will not permit the installation of cables.

New opportunities

Wireless networking could allow you to offer new products or services. For example, many airport departure lounges, train stations, hotels, cafes and restaurants have installed 'hot spot' WiFi services to allow mobile users to connect their equipment to their 'home' offices while travelling.

Despite the many benefits that wireless can claim over wired networks, there are also potential WiFi disadvantages to keep in mind.

Security

Wireless transmission is more exposed to attack by unauthorised users, so you must pay particular attention to security. See securing your wireless systems.

Installation problems

You may experience interference if others in the same building also use wireless technology, or where other sources of electromagnetic (radio) interference exist. This could lead to poor communication or, in extreme cases, complete loss of wireless communication.

Coverage

In some buildings, getting consistent coverage can be difficult, leading to 'black spots' where the signal isn't available. For example, in structures built using steel reinforcing materials, you may find it difficult to pick up the radio frequencies used.

Transmission speeds

Wireless transmission can be slower and less efficient than 'wired' networks. In larger wireless networks, the 'backbone' network is usually wired or fibre rather than wireless.

See also what type of wireless networking do you need.