When it comes to choosing between wired and wireless networking, there’s no right or wrong choice. It all depends on what your business needs are!
Even though widespread wireless connectivity presents everyone with a new era of mobility, it may or may not be the best choice for your business. Similarly, it’s not wise to assume that wired networks are hands-down the most suitable option, regardless of your business needs. The fact is, both wired and wireless networks come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
If you are a small business owner, office administrator, or an IT manager who’s wondering whether it’s best to migrate to a wireless network or to rely on a wired infrastructure, we present to you both sides of the coin in this article – so that you can make the right call, and ensure your IT strategy is headed in the right direction.
Wired vs Wireless Networks: Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages of Wired Networks
Stability and Reliability
When configured and utilised properly, wired networks can provide unparalleled reliability. As soon as the hubs, switches, and cables are installed, you can have a reliable network at your disposal.
Wired connections do not get influenced by other network connections in the vicinity or get bogged down by connectivity issues as much as their wireless counterparts. This is why you will find that wired networking based infrastructures are generally more stable.
Faster Speeds and High Connectivity
Wired networks deliver much faster speeds than wireless networks. The speeds have kept on improving since the use of Gigabit routers became a common practice. In addition to that, a wired network has a limited set of users connecting to it at any time, so it’s rarely bogged down by unexpected traffic – delivering nearly constant high speeds at all times.
Apart from this, since a separate ethernet cable is used to connect each of the devices directly to the network, users can’t run into common connectivity issues (like dead spots, for example), when connected to a wired network.
Once the firewalls and other necessary security applications are configured on the network, a wired network is quite well-protected from unwanted and unauthorised access. Such a connection can provide your office with ample protection for daily business operations, as long as the network is being monitored for any highly suspicious activity.
Wired networks are not visible to devices on other networks. This means it’s nearly impossible for users outside the network to try and directly connect to the network. At the same time, any device that can access the wired network can freely communicate with other devices on the network, as long as it’s allowed to. And this means, network admins can exercise a high level of user access control with relative ease.
Disadvantages of Wired Networks
Inconvenience Due to Lack of Mobility
Needless to say, wired networks are very inflexible when it comes to mobility. To be able to access a wired network at a different location, there’s no other option but to run extra cables and install switches at that location – which may or may not always be inconvenient, depending on how much mobility your business or staff demands.
May Require More Time to Install
In order to connect each and every device directly to the network, installation of the switches, routers, and hubs can be a lengthy and complex process. Installation of a wired network may also take longer, because more components may be required, depending on the size of your infrastructure and other requirements.
Larger Infrastructures Require More Maintenance
If you are setting up a small wired network, it may or may not need a server. However, once you begin growing the network or start adding more devices to the network, it’s essential to install a server, in order to handle the required bandwidth and network load. In such a situation, the maintenance costs could increase. In addition to this, you may also need to hire staff to oversee the maintenance, in case you need to set up multiple servers.
Slight Inconvenience Due to Too Many Cables
Relying on a wired network would mean dealing with a bunch of cables that won’t just be unsightly, but also inconvenient. The ethernet cables can also get disconnected by the office staff or cleaning crews, by mistake. However, this disadvantage may not bother you if the security, stability, and reliability of your network connections are more of a priority for your business.
Advantages of Wireless Networks
When you set up a wireless network, all your employees can access the network from almost anywhere in the office. This way, they can bring laptops and other devices into the meeting rooms and continue to access or download the important files and reference documents for discussions – without having to rely on a set of cables to stay online. It may not sound like a big deal, but it may improve your teams’ productivity, especially during meetings.
Lower Cost of Setup
Setting up a wireless network typically requires far fewer switches, routers, ethernet cables, and other hardware, as compared to installing wired networks. This is why the cost of implementing it is relatively cheap, in most cases – unless your network setup requires additional equipment, such as a commercial-grade router or wireless repeaters.
BYOD Policy is Easy to Implement
It’s becoming commonplace for workplaces to implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. It’s much easier to implement such a policy on a wireless network, as compared to a wired network.
Makes Your Office Look Neat and Organised
Needless to say, wireless networks make your workplace look neater, since there are far fewer cables to worry about. Again this isn’t a big deal, but worth considering, if you are serious about making your office space look more organised and clutter-free.
Easier to Install and Maintain
Overall, a wireless network can be installed much faster and with relative ease, because it requires far less equipment to set up. Plus, you don’t need to spend time installing countless cables and connecting each device to your network separately. If this wasn’t enough, maintenance is also easier, since most of the job is software-based, and not hardware-based.
Disadvantages of Wireless Networks
Connectivity May Suffer Occasionally
The possibility of interference or obstructions due to other wireless-enabled devices in the vicinity is higher. This can compromise both the performance as well as the quality of your connection. Users may also run into dead spots or areas that have a bad connection, an issue that is occasionally present in a wireless network area, due to objects or walls that might obstruct the connection. So, if your staff needs to work closely with other teams or change in location, for example, the strength of the signal may a lot and cause inconvenience.
Security Can Be a Concern
Generally, wireless networks are a bit less secure than wired networks. The main reason for this is the communication signals that get transmitted through the air and easier to intercept by bad actors. You would need proper encryption technology (WEP, WPA2), firewalls, and several other security measures in place to render it safe for business use.
Slightly Lower and Unreliable Data Transfer Speed
Wireless networks typically can’t match the speed of wired networks. However, since the data transmission speed is primarily dependent on your current configuration’s maximum speed capability, you can always improve it further by using a hybrid solution (using both wired and wireless connections together).
Wired vs Wireless Network: Which is Best for Your Business?
Determining which option is best for your business would greatly depend on your unique requirements, the nature of sensitive information your company handles on a regular basis, and several regulatory restrictions specific to your field of work. Some companies may prefer to opt for a hybrid approach, in which they primarily maintain a wired network, while also using a wireless network for offering mobility to a limited user segment.
It’s our belief that getting network installation right the first time itself is very crucial, in order to avoid hassles in the future, as your business grows. So, if you’re not sure which is the most suitable option for your business, or if it’s unclear where to start, get in touch with seasoned IT consultants who can guide you in the right direction.
At Amazing Support, we offer network installation and managed IT services that can make your day-to-day business operations seamless and also fit within your budget. If you are looking for any support or guidance in this regard, feel free to reach out to us, today!