The field of technology changes rapidly. Even over the past few years, there have been enormous shifts in technological tools and infrastructure. One of those shifts has been the increase in electronic devices that use wireless networks, rather than wired networks. And as wireless networks become more and more popular—for homes and businesses alike—it’s easy to think that maybe we just don’t need to use cabling anymore. But cabling has its own advantages that are important to look into before making important decisions about your network.
Wireless vs. Wired Networks
Wireless networks allow multiple technological devices to connect to the same Wifi without any cords, cables, or other tools. Access points create a wireless local area network and then project Wifi signals in that given area, so that the devices can connect to the Wifi through these radio frequency signals. By installing additional access points, the network expands. A wired network, on the other hand, uses hardware like cables or wires to connect devices to the Internet. Popular options for this cabling include ethernet cables, which are four sets of twisted cobble cables that can reach very high speeds by twisting the cables tighter. The other popular option is fiber optic cables, which use light signals to project Wifi signals through the network switch or hub, which then connects to your devices.
What are the pros of a wireless network?
Given how popular wireless networks are, there are some benefits, such as:
- Low installation cost. Initially, wireless networks are indeed cheaper per device. Because this network only requires access points, it doesn’t have the initial cost of hiring professionals to set up the cables and wiring through the building. Still, even these costs can be high. APs are on the order of hundreds of dollars, depending on the quality you choose.
- Mobility. Because the technological devices on this network are not physically connected to cables or wiring, users can roam freely as long as they are in the approximate area of the network. They don’t have to stay at their desks or a specific location to use the Internet.
- Easier to add devices. Wireless networks tend to be more adaptable, because they’re not relying on physical installation time and costs. If a business were to need to add additional devices to the wireless network, it would be simple, as there would be no need to install more cabling. However, even though this is a simple process, APs need configurations and need to be prescribed to specific needs of distance and number of devices. DIY options are often misleading because cheaper options like from the internet provider or the local office-supply store can only hold a few devices. If your business has a lot of employees and a lot of devices, it’s probably worth investing in a robust wireless system in tandem with a wired network.
What are the pros of a wired network?
Even though wireless networks are popular because of their ease and initial cost, there are many benefits to a wired network that are worth considering, such as:
- Speed. Overall, the speed of a wired network is usually much faster than the speed of a wireless network, reaching high speeds of up to 10 gigabyte per second. And each year, these speeds are getting faster with fewer and fewer delays.
- Higher productivity. Because wired networks are faster and more reliable, with fewer delays, they often lead to much less delays for a business. Unlike wireless devices, wired networks can’t suddenly go out of range for a device, drop the Internet signal, or switch from one network to another. Though they may cost more initially to install per device, they can lead to greater productivity because you’ll likely spend less time troubleshooting.
- Higher security. Wired networks can be lot more secure than wireless networks. Because wireless networks work through amplified Wifi signals, they are easier for outsiders to use and hack if not secured properly. Because wired networks need a physical connection, they are much more difficult to infiltrate.
- Some devices should have their own cables. Despite the fact that so many devices are wireless, devices that use up a lot of bandwidth should really have their own cable to run properly and efficiently. Additionally, devices that don’t have Wifi capabilities should also have their own cables. For example, access points, printers, servers, switches, and firewalls (among other devices) should each have their own cable(s), and each cable should have its own jack port. And you can’t solve this by just buying cheap, small switches, since these will slow down your network dramatically; it needs a professional IT solution. Not all devices run best when they’re wireless, and these are just a few examples of technology that would benefit from a wired solution.
So what is the best solution?
Both wireless and wired networks clearly have their pros and cons, so how do you figure out what the best solution is for you? The best answer is to combine both of these solutions. Of course you should be able to take advantage of wireless networks and its benefits, but in order for your wireless network to be the best it can be, you also need to have cabling in your infrastructure. Despite the newfound popularity of wireless, not all devices can or should be on Wifi. Adding cabling to your infrastructure is the best solution to having your Internet and technological devices run smoothly, and to take full advantage of everything that the Internet has to offer.
When thinking about your internet and network connections, reflect on your choices of wiring and wireless options. After all, all IT systems are comprised on interconnected parts and any one weak point can create risk for the entire system and affect your business. Seeking more information about how to improve your IT system, please download the eBook titled "Built to Scale: IT System Designed for Growth" to learn more about improving your IT solution for better productivity.