Choosing Between a Wired or Wireless Office Setup

July 30th, 2013

computer ethernet cables plugged in to the switchboard

Many businesses are currently weighing the costs and benefits of a wireless network.  If your office is engaged in a similar debate, here are a few points you may wish to consider before deciding either way.

Wired is faster

If speed is your main consideration, then a hard-wired Ethernet system wins hands down. While wireless speeds are gradually improving, speed and coverage are still affected by factors such as the number of people using the network, the thickness of interior walls between connection points, whether other electronic devices are being used nearby and even the outside weather conditions.

Wireless is cheaper

Hard-wiring an office with cables requires drilling through walls and ceilings and fairly intensive IT involvement. If you don’t have an onsite IT department, installation can be expensive. And if you require more connections as your business grows, adding cables and routers is more costly than simply adding users to a wireless network. Repairs also cost more with a wired system, as there is no software solution to a broken cable.

Wired is more secure

If someone wants to compromise your wired network, they have to physically hack into it in the office. Wireless on the other hand, means your data is being transferred through the airwaves, not necessarily even within the confines of the office. Hacking into wireless networks is much easier for someone using a package-sniffing program nearby. The use of a Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) can help to alleviate this problem somewhat.

Wireless is more flexible

Because employees are not restricted to any one spot in the office by a connection point, you can arrange your office space in a much more relaxed and interactive manner with a wireless network.  Additionally, employees can easily connect with their own devices. If you lease your office space, a wireless network is also much easier to pick up and take with you if you change premises.

Main things to consider

Before deciding whether to go with wireless or stick with an Ethernet system, there are several important things you should consider:

  •     What are your plans for the future? Do you expect to grow rapidly, requiring more staff and equipment?
  •     Are your staff using their own devices for work purposes? If so, are they wireless enabled?
  •     How big is your office and how many wireless access points would be required? (maximum coverage is around 150 feet)
  •     How many staff do you currently have and how many would need wireless access? (each access point will support around 25 people).

There are many advantages to going wireless. With the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workplaces, having your employees connected wirelessly can improve productivity dramatically. But wired systems certainly offer more security for your sensitive company data.

Often the most effective trade-off is to invest in a little of both. Adding a wireless component to your existing wired LAN (Local Area Network) would allow employees to use their own devices freely, but they could still plug into the hard-wired system when serious data speed or confidentiality was required.

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