Sponsored by Oregon Business

Is a wireless network right for your business?

| Print |  Email
Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Implementing a computer network is often one of a business’ most important capital additions, and often the most expensive. The improved technology of wireless networks makes them a more viable option now. Wireless networks can provide a company’s workers with increased access and flexibility, cost less, and have no higher security risk than a wired network.

How to decide if wireless is the right option for your business? Here are a few questions to consider:

1. What physical problems might you encounter? Installing a wired network can often be difficult in older buildings. Wireless networks, while easier to install, can be hampered by structural issues that cause dead spots. Before deciding, you need to have technicians look at your building, and perform radio frequency tests to determine the number and location of wireless access points.

2. How much do you want to spend? A full-office retrofit for a wireless network will initially cost more than running a few cables from an installed wired network because of the additional equipment needed. For an older building without an installed wired network, a wireless network will likely cost less to implement because it avoids complex construction issues. Over time, wireless networks often have lower capital, operational and service expenditures, and it’s also cheaper to add new users. The non-profit Wi-Fi Alliance answers questions on equipment, compatibility and standards. Go to www.wi-fi.org for more information.

3. Is mobility important to your business? Laptops with wireless capabilities can benefit your employees in the office, at home and at public hotspots by creating continual access to your network and opportunities to multitask — which can mean more productivity for you. Intel reports that it has gotten two hours extra in productivity per employee per week since it shifted most of its workforce from desktop PCs to mobile laptops and notebook computers. Intel offers a tool to analyze how a wireless system could improve your employee productivity and reduce technology costs. Go to www.intel.com/business/smallbusiness/roi.htm.

One of the biggest concerns about a wireless network is security. But the unprotected wireless world where information was easily pirated is a thing of the past, experts say. Encryption technology has evolved to the point that wireless networks are now considered as secure as hard-wired networks.

Jim Johnson, vice president of Intel’s mobility group and former general manager of Intel’s wireless networking group, says the encryption of data on a wireless network now provides robust protection.

“Wi-Fi needed to mimic the security protections of hard lines, because we couldn’t physically protect the waves like the cables hidden in the walls of a building. Engineers developed encryption mechanisms to protect the wireless waves,” says Johnson, “but now we’ve come full circle, as engineers are working to bring the same encryption protection to Ethernet lines.”

Andy Hunt, of Pro Activist Computer Support in Portland, installs both wired and wireless networks. He says it is usually the user, not the network, that allows a security breach. “I’d say that maybe 20% of the clients I encounter run wireless systems with no encryption at all, and it seems that no one updates their patches.” Hunt advises users to set up automatic updates and use strong passwords. “Digits are like the notches on a key. The more you have, the more difficult to crack.”

Another way wireless networks can provide more data security is through private access networks and local access networks. These networks can limit access and segregate users.

So is wireless right for you? Your office infrastructure and user needs will dictate what type of network to install, but the evolving capabilities of wireless technology make it a smart choice to consider.

— Robert H. Hamrick


RESOURCES:

www.wi-fiplanet.com offers a guide to wireless technology, including news, features, product reviews and tutorials.

www.wifinerd.com provides links to wireless news, resources, vendors and tools.


ve an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...

Umbrella Revolution

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015

Yeah, we know: Oregonians are way too cool for umbrellas. But today’s stylish, high-tech models will soften the resistance of the most rain hardened.


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...

On the Road

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

My daughter turned 18 last week, and for her birthday I got her a Car2Go membership. Not to label myself a disruptor or anything, but it felt like a groundbreaking moment. The two of us, mother and child, were participating in a new teen rite of passage: Instead of handing over the car keys, I handed over a car-sharing card — with the caveat that she not use the gift as her own personal car service.


Read more...

Thy neighbor's house

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Vacasa may lack the name recognition of Airbnb. But not for long.


Read more...

Nuclear fingerprints

March 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

At Oregon State University, a 21st century version of the bad dream — nuclear terrorism — is alive and well. This winter, the Department of Nuclear Physics and Radiation Health Physics created a new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in nuclear forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS