Wireless Networking (Wi-Fi) – Advantages and Disadvantages to wireless networkingPosted on Nov 04 in Blogby Anthony DeyoPrint
The popularity of wireless LANs is a testament primarily to their convenience, cost efficiency, and ease of integration with other networks and network components. The majority of computers sold to consumers today come pre-equipped with all necessary wireless LAN technology.
- Convenience – The wireless nature of such networks allows users to access network resources from nearly any convenient location within their primary networking environment (a home or office). With the increasing saturation of laptop-style computers, this is particularly relevant.
- Mobility – With the emergence of public wireless networks, users can access the internet even outside their normal work environment. Most chain coffee shops, for example, offer their customers a wireless connection to the internet at little or no cost.
- Productivity – Users connected to a wireless network can maintain a nearly constant affiliation with their desired network as they move from place to place. For a business, this implies that an employee can potentially be more productive as his or her work can be accomplished from any convenient location.
- Deployment – Initial setup of an infrastructure-based wireless network requires little more than a single access point. Wired networks, on the other hand, have the additional cost and complexity of actual physical cables being run to numerous locations (which can even be impossible for hard-to-reach locations within a building).
- Expandability – Wireless networks can serve a suddenly-increased number of clients with the existing equipment. In a wired network, additional clients would require additional wiring.
- Cost – Wireless networking hardware is at worst a modest increase from wired counterparts. This potentially increased cost is almost always more than outweighed by the savings in cost and labor associated to running physical cables.
Disadvantages – For a given networking situation, wireless LANs may not be desirable for a number of reasons. Most of these have to do with the inherent limitations of the technology.
- Security – To combat this consideration, wireless networks may choose to utilize some of the various encryption technologies available. Some of the more commonly utilized encryption methods, however, are known to have weaknesses that a dedicated adversary can compromise.
- Range – The typical range of a common 802.11g network with standard equipment is on the order of tens of meters. While sufficient for a typical home, it will be insufficient in a larger structure. To obtain additional range, repeaters or additional access points will have to be purchased. Costs for these items can add up quickly.
- Reliability – Like any radio frequency transmission, wireless networking signals are subject to a wide variety of interference, as well as complex propagation effects that are beyond the control of the network administrator.
- Speed – The speed on most wireless networks (typically 1-54 Mbps) is far slower than even the slowest common wired networks (100Mbps up to several Gbps). However, in specialized environments, the throughput of a wired network might be necessary.