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All WiFi is the same, right? And if you want something super-fast, you are going to need wired networking? Wrong. Or at least…not always right. WiFi has evolved a lot in the past decade, and some of the more recent innovations provide highly viable, cost-effective alternatives to wired networking.

We’re not just talking about the most headline-grabbing innovations. Simple but efficient WiFi access points can increase capacity and coverage, adding extra layers of security and privacy that make it a safe option for business. Advances in WiFi are breaking exciting new barriers.

WiFi has moved on, just like any other technology. Think how software has changed in the past decade: the explosion of cloud-based services, and the increased functionality of consumer devices. WiFi has gone through the same big evolution. It’s time for many business users and their resellers to revisit the capability of WiFi. Here are the essential facts:

WiFi Matches Wired Performance

The latest generations of WiFi can provide speeds comparable to those of Gigabit Ethernet and, in some cases, even multi-Gigabit Ethernet. This is due to the ability of both WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 to be configured on the 5GHz signal band, providing speeds of up to 1.7Gbps or 2.4Gbps. That’s more than enough for many business applications:

  • File transfer, such as sending medical images within a health clinic
  • Guest WiFi access to hundreds of people simultaneously
  • Digital signage, Point of Sale, conferencing & surveillance cameras
  • Smart building systems for lighting, door entry, motion detection, and voice recognition
  • Cost-effective campus-wide deadspot-free communication
  • Reduction of power cables with WiFi access points with Power over Ethernet (PoE)

WiFi is flexible & far-reaching

Speed aside, there are some other compelling reasons that WiFi is a serious contender for business use. In a perfect world, locations needing connectivity would have straightforward layouts and easy access for installation, as well as plenty of time and budget to install cables and other equipment. Businesses could predict exactly what they need not just today, but six or 12 months down the line. But as we all know, we don’t live in a perfect world; layouts make installation difficult, landlords are not happy about extra cabling (if it’s even possible), deadlines and money are typically restricted, and businesses needs change all the time.

Did you know that WiFi can now do all this?

  • Instantly and easily expand WiFi networks, even across large areas. Use modern-day WiFi access points to create a multi-unit access point network, connected and configured simply and quickly using NETGEAR Orbi Pro and Insight cloud management software.
    Furthermore, with NETGEAR Instant Mesh, the quality of connectivity remains consistent up to the very furthest user or device, without any loss of connection.
  • Securely connect multiple IoT devices. Back in the day, WiFi was seen as being insecure, but since then, it has added multiple layers of security. Now, a business can feel safe even when connecting the weakest link in the whole network world — that is, IoT devices. Wireless Protection Access (WPA) within WiFi standards has continued to evolve, and on top of this, NETGEAR users can create secure WiFi zones, using virtual local area network (VLAN) technology to create up to 4 isolated networks.
  • Support, even grow, temporary and pop-up sites. Forget WiFi that is difficult to set up. With Instant Mesh, networks can be configured or expanded within minutes, without the hassle and cost of installing cables.

WiFi also got Smart

For today’s SMBs and their resellers, there are some stand-out requirements for network connectivity. Apart from performance and cost, ease of installation and management are paramount. There are also concerns about security.

Thanks to cloud technology, businesses today can install wireless systems out of the box, often with zero-touch deployment. Fire up the NETGEAR Insight cloud portal and it will automatically discover and connect all the WiFi access points in a network, as well as printers and other connected devices. That task can be carried out on-site or from hundreds of miles away.

Plus, once systems are set up, the Insight portal makes monitoring, troubleshooting and reconfiguring networks a breeze, whether via a web browser or the smartphone app. It’s also easy to create several virtual wireless networks within one system to securely separate traffic between staff and visitors. Businesses can also prioritize who gets access to bandwidth. Multiple built-in security features give businesses peace of mind about the protection of their private information.

WiFi 6 Takes Wireless to a New Level

For many business users, WiFi 5 will do just fine for now. For any organization that is expanding the number of connected devices, or installing IoT equipment, however, WiFi 6 is worth considering. The immediate upgrade in speed makes WiFi 6 perfect for more bandwidth-hungry apps and devices, such as surveillance cameras, conferencing, video and high-quality image transfer, or very dense WiFi user hotspots. What matters most, though, is how WiFi 6 can treat every device and user equally, so businesses can more effectively manage universal wireless connectivity and provide a consistent experience everywhere and all the time.

Final words from our Community

We’ve explained the many capabilities of WiFi — now hear directly from some of our partners and business customers.

Kyle Larson, IT Director for New Hope Church: “I don’t have to drive for hours to fix a simple issue; with cloud-based management, the fix is just a click away, right from my desk. That saves me a ton of time, which translates to real cost savings for New Hope Church.”

Bryan Turner, Director of Information Technology, Trinity-Pawling School: “Setting up each access point was easy: the access point grabs all the information it needs, finds devices and it’s ready to go. It’s almost zero-touch: 15 minutes and it is done.” Bryan also found that due to the capacity of the WAC540 design, he needed half the number of access points he had expected.

Scott Birmingham, Birmingham Consulting: “We can preconfigure everything before we arrive at the customer site through the cloud portal without having to open any boxes. Insight Pro reduces labor and takes up less of the customer’s time.”

WiFi has been quietly evolving over the past decade, and today, it stands up against wired products by being smart, cost-effective, easy, flexible, secure, and future-facing. Ignore the myths, know the facts, and take a look at the benefits of WiFi for business.

Doug Cheung

Senior Product Line Manager, Wireless and Storage

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