There are a lot of factors that determine the price of network upgrades, and one that's often overlooked is the cost of rewiring. When a company expands its network, it often creates a need to drop more cables into the walls or ceiling, and that sort of physical work can start becoming expensive, quickly.
Accordingly, when you're looking into upgrades, solutions requiring fewer cables are going to be more affordable. You can ultimately save money, if you can avoid having people digging around in the walls. Further, "wireless" options allow quicker installation and configuration, simplifying rollouts.
So, let's look at the options here. First, to address an obvious question:
Are There Advantages To Physical Network Cabling?
If dropping cables into walls is so expensive, why do it? Well, there are a few benefits worth considering:
Speed: Wireless options lag behind cabling for speed. A fiber optic line, especially, will deliver faster service than most other options
Security: A physical cable is always going to be harder to "hack" than wireless options. Fiber lines are nearly impossible to tap without being detected.
Low interference: WiFi signals are susceptible to interference from a variety of sources, and physical cabling may sometimes be needed to avoid obstructions.
Linking buildings: While high-powered directional WiFi antennas exist, it's sometimes cheaper in the long term to simply run cable between buildings.
Reliability: Once a cable is strung, it's probably not going anywhere. On the other hand, if it is broken by outside forces, finding and repairing the break is pricey.
So, there are benefits, but they're fairly specific. If none of these sound particularly advantageous for your business, then you probably want to look into wireless options to save money.
Upgrading Your Network With A Minimum Of Rewiring
1 - Power-over-Ethernet
PoE is one of the most interesting developments in Ethernet cabling, and it does exactly what it sounds like. PoE-compatible hardware can pull power directly through the Cat 5 or 6 cable, radically reducing your need for electric cables, outlets, and power protection systems.
Usually, a single PoE server can power several connected sub-devices (access points, telephones, etc) without increasing its own power draw. If necessary, power boosters are also available which feed more electricity into the system.
This can be a massive money-saver, since it eliminates a lot of extraneous power cables, as well as requiring fewer smaller battery backup units.
2 - Powered Antennas
A standard WiFi access point generates a "bubble" of wireless access that surrounds it in a roughly spherical fashion. While this works fine for standard access, it isn't always the right tool for the job.
When you need to connect multiple buildings, and you don't want the operating expenses from laying and burying lines, a powered directional antenna is the next best thing. These can beam your WiFi up to several kilometers away, on a tight band that's hard to intercept.
Both the options here - cabling or high-powered antennas - carry significant costs. A good it solutions vendor can help you with the cost/benefit analysis.
3 - BlueSocket Wireless Access Points
The ADTRAN BlueSocket system is one of our most popular options for access points, and for good reason. They combine the convenience of PoE with quick and easy setup. In most cases, all a company has to do is:
1 - Plug an Ethernet cable into the BlueSocket device,
2 - Mount it on the wall, and
3 - Register its serial number and license within the AOS server software.
BlueSocket does the rest, with "plug and play" self-configuration that pulls everything else it needs directly from the server. In terms of easy network expansions, with a minimum of wires or additional hassle, BlueSocket is a big winner.
Expanding Your Network Doesn't Have To Be Hard
The variety of new networking technologies makes it relatively easy to expand your network, without the cost of dropping more cable. To learn more, just contact us to discuss the best options for your business!