It seems that no matter where you go these days, there is Wi-Fi available. Connecting to the web has become a part of our daily lives and being able to do so where you eat, shop, and mingle is part of what makes social networking really work. But are there more benefits of Wi-Fi to small business owners than attracting young tech-savvy visitors to their stores?
Even if your business doesn’t see customers face-to-face, Wi-Fi has been embraced as a cost saving tool for businesses that don’t want to go through the expense of having someone run expensive ethernet cable through their building. Having everyone’s work station on a wired connection is a pricey ordeal especially in an office environment. The contractor, cable, ports, routers, switches, and maintenance all require a substantial cost to the business owner. For an office requiring 25 ethernet jacks, the cost of having wired networking set up can reach in to the tens of thousands.
Setting up one or even multiple secured wireless routers is substantially cheaper and easier, and you won’t need a small team of contractors running cable to do it. All you need is a little know-how and a closet or spare desk space.
Wireless N brought about a much faster connection allowing practically the same throughput users were enjoying with wired 10/100 class connections. While some budget desktops used for business don’t currently support Wi-Fi out of the box, USB adapters are currently very cheap and generally work very well.
What if your office is just big enough that the signal isn’t very strong in certain areas of the building? Wireless repeaters and range expanders are an excellent way to boost the signal to reach the extra space.
Security is a concern often associated with wireless networking, and for good reason. Some popular and older methods of securing these networks are easily cracked and vulnerable to attacks. There are, however, methods for securing a wireless network that are pretty solid. The use WPA/WPA2-Enterprise, firewalls, VPNs, and VLANs the right way can lock down a wireless signal making it extremely difficult for a hacker to access the network in any realistic amount of time. Again, nothing is foolproof.
Wireless networking has and continues to save small businesses money. In some cases, the cost savings from minimizing the use of wired networking can be substantial enough to make a serious difference in a company’s financial outlook.
Do you agree or disagree? Please leave a comment below explaining your preferred method for cutting costs.