Getting on Board Wi-Fi

Ronan McCarthy

Managed Networks Principal

Innovation News

An increase in demand for Wi-Fi means networks now need to be robust enough to support multiple device access as well as applications that vary widely from sector to sector.

Wi-Fi in demand

With mobile device adoption booming, access technologies have to keep up with increased demand. Wi-Fi access is becoming regarded as an essential utility, in the same way that we view our water and electricity. Regardless of location, we are demanding fast access to all our data and applications, and wireless networks are central to making this possible.

By now, most of us have some form of wireless network in our homes, so we’re expecting the same level of service wherever we go, whether it be hospitals, schools and universities, large public venues, and now, with Wi-Fi available at 70 Irish Rail and DART stations, we even have wireless access while we’re in transit. This is leading to a huge growth in demand for fast, reliable wireless infrastructure, and organisations are increasingly turning to the likes of Cisco, Xirrus and Ruckus to roll out robust networks in order to meet these demands.

Wi-Fi networks must now be designed to support an increasing number of people using not only laptops, but smartphones and tablet devices, and in some cases, all of these devices simultaneously. Organisations must take this into consideration when introducing wireless, to ensure they’re providing a high-quality experience to these different users; users are unlikely to revisit hotels that do not have a good Wi-Fi network, especially if they are travelling on business.

Wi-Fi brings varied possibilities

Wi-Fi usage varies from sector to sector. Through our work with high-performance wireless provider Xirrus, Cisco, eir is seeing some schools go completely wireless. They are using wireless technology to facilitate such activities as learning support / bring-your-own-device (BYOD) schemes for pupils, encouraging the use of IT across all lessons, as well as helping to foster digital skills for the future workforce.

In hospitals, doctors are using wireless to access patient data from tablet devices at the bedside, as well as to help them access X-rays and reports faster on the ward. When it comes to businesses, take an exhibition space as an example: exhibition visitors are demanding fast Wi-Fi access so they can stay connected to their business and social circles while attending an event. Sports stadiums are also looking at Wi-Fi as a way to overcome mobile bandwidth issues and to better engage with fans on match days.

The business case for Wi-Fi

With this demand for Wi-Fi, comes huge opportunity for organisations. Not only can Wi-Fi help streamline costs while delivering a better customer experience, but it can also be used to generate additional revenue: by using Wi-Fi as a marketing tool to reach customers, or by using it to collect customer data in order to target visitors more effectively. The information can also be used to better track consumer behaviour, leading to informed business decisions.

As more organisations get the right networks in place, we’ll see far increasingly innovative uses of wireless technology, and more businesses will start to view it as a key element in their customer service offering.

Danny Cole is Principal of Enterprise Voice at eir. Connect to Danny on Linked In.

Ronan has over 20 years industry experience working in network operations and network engineering for leading international Managed Services Providers, specifically within the financial vertical. Ronan has been lead design architect for some of our Data Centre & campus deployments at HSE National Data Centre, DAA T2, Croke Park and some of the largest retail network deployments in Ireland.