We’re in the midst of an incredible megatrend. We know it and we’re living it. We all love our mobile devices; whether it’s our laptop (yes, I’m sitting at my kids swim class typing away for work), our mobile phone (I’m getting texts on what’s for dinner), or our tablet (where Draw Something awaits me). Apple recently stated that they have sold more than 67 million iPads in the recent 18 months. That is more than all the Mac sales in the past 27 years. There’s no denying it: we are in the midst of an incredible megatrend—a mobile megatrend.
But what does this mean to businesses?From the IT perspective, the role of the mobile devices has transformed from a luxury item used for personal communication and entertainment to an integral tool for employee productivity. Mobile devices are now the main platform for work (laptop or tablet) and the primary medium for corporate contact (mobile phone). With employees bringing an average of two mobile devices each (laptop/tablet + mobile phone), companies can reap the benefits of new business opportunities and more productive employees.
Sound good? There’s a caveat. In order to harness all that potential, you have to overcome the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) challenge: you need reliable, pervasive wireless coverage to ensure the wireless bandwidth and link-reliability required to support the increased number of mobile devices in the workplace.
So you’re the IT administrator for a mid-sized company and you’re thinking, “But I already have wireless coverage. I’m covered, aren’t I?”
Consider a medium sized business with a legacy 802.11a/b/g wireless infrastructure and an average of two mobile devices per employee. In this scenario, each device is sharing 802.11a/g’s 54Mbps bandwidth per access point. What’s worse, 802.11b access points only supports 11Mbps. How are you going to provide the necessary connectivity required to support the proliferation of mobile devices in your workplace when you’re limited by bandwidth?
It’s time for Mid-market to move to 802.11n. From a pure numbers perspective, an entry-level 802.11n 2x2:2 access point supports 300 Mbps. That’s a 6X boost in network performance with 802.11n. The best part is that 802.11n can support a mixed client environment; supporting a mix of 802.11a/b/g/n clients.
Let’s take a quick look on the impact of 802.11n on different market segments:
Education: Take a classroom or lecture hall full of students with one mobile device each, sharing 802.11a/g’s 54Mbps bandwidth per access point. Even if students are only using 2Mbps each, the bandwidth for classroom collaboration applications is limited to supporting fewer than 30 students. An 802.11n access point would support increased bandwidth and more students with its 300Mbps.
Healthcare: Imagine a mid-size medical group’s key medical personnel trying to keep critical communication over a shared 802.11a/g’s 54Mbps bandwidth per access point. Slow or unreliable connections are not acceptable. With 802.11n, link reliability and bandwidth availability would be more assured. Additionally, the additional increase in available bandwidth would provide patients with wireless guest-access as a service and encourage deployment of additional applications, such as digital records in patient or diagnosing rooms.
Corporate Businesses: Imagine a medium-size real estate, technology, financial services, or other medium business with each employee using a laptop and a smartphone on the wireless network, sharing 802.11a/g’s 54Mbps bandwidth per access point. This worked fine when employees were tied to their desks, leveraging their wired port. 802.11n, with increased bandwidth and stronger link reliability, would enable employees to stay connected on-the-go, increasing productivity and collaboration in hallways, conference rooms, break rooms, and offices.
Retail: Think Apple store with their employees walking around with their mobile point-of-sale devices. There’s no question that leveraging these point-of-sale devices is feasible over 802.11a/g’s 54Mbps bandwidth per access point. 802.11n would enable new and flexible ways to do business. Furthermore, mid-market businesses could take advantage of the additional bandwidth to encourage more users on the network to benefit from rich applications, such as location-based services to push specials to the end customer.
In addition to providing the necessary bandwidth to leverage the BYOD trend, 802.11n provides the additional upside of reliability. With the introduction of 802.11n a few years ago, came the insertion of MIMO (multiple-in-multiple-out). MIMO ensures a greater SNR (signal to noise ratio), enabling a more reliable transmission and a stronger transmission signal. On one end of the spectrum, the same data stream is transmitted over multiple antennas. This data stream takes multiple paths to the multiple receivers. The receivers now mathematically combine these multipath signals to result in a single optimal receive signal overcoming interfering noise and ensuring link reliability. On the other end, we have each transmit antenna transmitting a different stream of data, optimizing the full bandwidth potential. Leveraging the combination of these spectrum ends, 802.11n provides increased reliability along with increased bandwidth.
802.11n inherently offers a better mobile experience than the legacy infrastructure with:
- Increased 300 Mbps per access point bandwidth to support an increased number of devices
- Greater availabggility of bandwidth to connect more users to the network
- Improved link reliability to ensure optimized connectivity
- New opportunities for increased service features and new revenue streams
We’re in the midst of the BYOD megatrend, and a strong wireless network is required to tap into new revenue opportunities and increase productivity. There is no better tool for this than 802.11n wireless technologies to ensure performance, reliability, and scalability. Mid-market businesses can leverage 802.11n network performance simply, affordably and securely with Cisco’s Mid-market BYOD Solution. Check it out.