Today, living in this world full of technology, most of the cities and public areas all have wifi available for network connection. At many homes, it has become a commodity today to have internet with the wireless access point. The majority of the business also makes use of a wireless access point. Although when it comes to business, some businesses such as hotels, would need to take very serious consideration in what kind of wireless solution they would be implementing in their network infrastructure. If they were to provide wifi as a service to the guest, they would need to start thinking about reliability, coverage, guest management, security, traffic analysis, support, and warranty. There are significant differences in the wireless access point that business would need to consider from wireless access points used at home.
Enterprise and Consumer Wireless Access Points
Home Wireless Access Points
The consumer-grade wireless access point is usually pre-equipped with the internet provider’s internet service plan for most modern-day homes. When you ask for a home internet plan, you will get a technician to run the cables up to your premises and from there, the internet provider engineers would set up their carrier modem. Depending on the modem, it may be equipped with wifi or an engineer would set up a wireless access point. What the home wireless access point can do is simple. Users connect to the wireless access point using pre-shared key AES encryption with WPA2 Personal authentication. “AES is the strongest encryption method currently available, and it is used with WPA2” (LabSim Online Labs, 2017, 10.3.2 Wireless Configuration) Both home wireless access points and enterprise wireless access points do have the capability for AES encryption today. The wireless access point SSID would be mostly broadcasted, using the preshared key pre-setup. The most consumer-grade wireless access point would be able to do only limited features and would not be able to create multiple SSIDs.
Enterprise Wireless Access Points
Enterprise-grade wireless access points are different from standard consumer-grade wireless access points. They have more features and have some feature that can only be adapted to enterprise setup, such as wireless access points with POE feature. This allows wireless access point set up anywhere with just a wall jack. The access point would be able to take power from the POE switch through the Ethernet cable. Many other features include multiple SSID, AP clustering, traffic analysis, better management, great support, and warranty.
In large operations such as setting up a network for a hotel, there would be a need for the wireless connection to be able to be reached every guest room without a blind spot. Covering the whole hotel with one access point would be impossible. There would be a need to set up multiple wireless access points in the premise to spread the wireless radio reach every room. When it comes to multiple wireless access points, the next problem it would be is managing all the access points in the hotel. The larger the hotel, the larger the number of access points would need to be set.
To manage all the access points, there are times where companies would install a wireless controller, to control all the wireless controller in the hotel. There are more benefits in installing a wireless controller such as being able to set up multiple SSID with the use of VLAN, access point clustering, seamless auto-configuration syncing across access points, set up a policy for all access points, security standards, and much more. “An infrastructure that allows for monitoring the performance of the network and the ability to push out quick changes from a single point is fundamental to lower operational costs” (Daryl, 2014). An enterprise-scale wireless network could provide huge security benefits to prevent intrusion and protection to connecting clients. Most wireless access points or wireless controllers would be able to set up a web portal to allow users to authenticate. Through WPA2 and 802.1x authentication with a radius, the server would give an additional capability to change the password for the guest user in reoccurring date. “WPA2 defines two types of security: passphrase authentication for small and small office/home office (SOHO) networks, and 802.1X/EAP security for enterprise networks” (Capano, 2015). There wouldn’t be authentication Traffic management, and host control would be much easier and simplified. If support contracts are bought for these devices, there would be support on the uptime for this device for the company. This would provide better maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair. Through these features, the wireless access points would be able to cover a large space with better reliability, redundant, provide secure wireless connection, well managed, and support service for longer uptime.
A disadvantage of implementing an enterprise-scale wireless network infrastructure is that it would be difficult to configure the enterprise networking devices compared to the consumer scale wireless network devices. The more the difficult to configure the more the difficult it is to troubleshoot and maintain the device. There would be a need to buy a support contract for these devices for this effect, and another reason is because of the cost.
The installation would be expensive and to minimize the cost, the POE feature helps to reduce the cost of extra cabling. However, this considerable disadvantage of using an enterprise wireless network would cost a lot more money. Not only the hardware for these devices however the additional support, cabling, hiring network engineers, and maintenance would be costly. To find the right wireless solution for you, you must first consider how much cost you would be putting for a wireless connection for your business, the need for a wide range of connection, security, and reliability.
Home used wireless access point has a clear limitation in features compared to the wireless access points used for enterprise business scaled wireless network infrastructure. Depending on how you would like your business to make use of the wireless technology and how much you are willing to invest in wireless connectivity, would defy whether if you should implement and home wireless network infrastructure or an enterprise network infrastructure. Businesses would need to take a careful look at how this can be possible through considering things such as reliability, coverage, guest management, security, traffic analysis, support, and warranty support in mind for the wireless network implementation. There would be no other way but take advantage of this great technology.
Capano, D. (2015). Wireless security basics, standards. Control Engineering, 62(4), 34.
Daryl. S (2014) 6 Key Advantages for Having Controllerless WiFi in Your School. Retrieved
LabSim Online Labs. (2017). TestOut Network Pro ISBN: 978-1-935080-43-5. Pleasant Grove, UT.