By John Tippett, Vice President, Datto Networking
Have you had the phones light up when a customer’s Wi-Fi went down? It’s mayhem. Reliable Wi-Fi connectivity is important no matter what verticals you serve, from office workers with multiple mobile devices to hotels that make revenue from Wi-Fi to a retail store that leverages the web to share product details or ring up purchases.
If the Wi-Fi goes out, or speeds slow, business and customers are lost. And if you offer managed Wi-Fi services and are responsible for front-line support, forget going home on time. This is particularly true for your small-to-midsize business customers, who don’t always have an in-house IT pro who can troubleshoot an access point. Still, SMBs understand the value of having the best technology to differentiate their businesses, so you want to make sure they have the best Wi-Fi. Just provisioned in as bulletproof a manner as possible.
Here are several key considerations when assessing the current state of an SMB customer’s wireless networking ecosystem and assessing their need to upgrade.
More speed, better bandwidth: Regarded as the common standard for local wireless connectivity when established 10 years ago, 802.11ac (“Wireless AC”) was an evolutionary improvement to 802.11n (“Wireless N”). Wireless N played a critical role in driving inclusion of Wi-Fi support in business applications, which led to the expansive adoption of Wi-Fi in SMBs today. However, as more devices connect and workers become increasingly mobile, the Wireless N standard simply cannot keep up.
Wireless AC is the latest widely adopted generation of Wi-Fi, and it offers significant performance improvements over 802.11n, in both improved bandwidth efficiency and increased data transfer rates. Customers still relying on the older Wireless N standard are at a clear disadvantage, and you should not hesitate to recommend an upgrade to the newer AC standard.
The latest addition to the Wireless AC standard — 802.11ac Wave 2 — introduces further improvements to 11ac. They include wider channels and enhanced performance in environments with many users and devices, offering a speed increase of up to 333 percent over the previous generation. This boost in speed, combined with increased bandwidth quality, can easily increase the productivity and data-streaming capabilities of a customer’s network. Businesses that deal with many users and devices or large data files, such as high-quality video streaming or medical imaging, will really see an improvement.
Because they are still a subset of the overall 802.11 standard, the benefits of shifting to 802.11ac types are attainable while retaining compatibility with 802.11n clients in a network. Devices using the newer standard are backward-compatible with older devices, and businesses that decide to upgrade their networking infrastructure in phases will still see improvements in access speed.
A less-crowded environment: In addition to the performance enhancements outlined in the AC standard, 802.11ac operates…