October 11, 2021

The Evolution of WiFi

by: Align

Take a moment to look around—how many devices are connected to WiFi at this very moment?

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues its rapid growth, more devices are expanding their capabilities through connectivity as commonplace items transform into connected devices every day. The wireless networks they connect to have quickly evolved to enterprise-class.

More devices require WiFi, and business standards for new technology are continually trending toward fewer cables and more flexible, wire-free connectivity. The increasing demand for robust, flexible WiFi connections has been met with improved technology and industry standards. 

WiFi Innovation 

WiFi has been defined by a set of standards known as IEEE802.11. WiFi owes its creation to several inventors and patents, but the establishment of the IEEE committee that created the core standards made the original Wireless Fidelity networking technology possible. Offering basic specification for the still-new technology, 802.11 served as guidance for the development of early routers, data transfer on a 2.4 GHz frequency. Subsequent amendments continue to expand theoretical rates, ranges and techniques, incrementally improving performance and potential. The latest—801.11ax—shows just how far WiFi has come.

Achieving up to 11 Gbit/s in a 5 GHz band, the potential is exponentially greater, offering extensive improvements in connection speeds and better connection strength. Through beamforming—an innovative targeting technology that allows for constructive and destructive interference and strong signals—the wireless connection can even be directed at a specific device. All these improvements in such a short period are closing the gap between physical and wireless connections, and the result sometimes means WiFi is an all-around better choice for modern business. 

WiFi as a Service

When purchasing WiFi, how you buy is just as important as what you buy. Purchasing expensive WiFi equipment does not mean it will accelerate performance or meet your unique business needs. Numerous attributes can hinder performance and interfere with the overall connection speed, including, but not limited to:

  • Poorly installed access points
  • Antiquated security standards
  • Signal interference
  • Inadequate WiFi design
  • Walls and barriers in between access point and users
  • End-user applications

To avoid the above common WiFi pitfalls, forward-thinking companies are leveraging WiFi-as-a-Service (WiFiaaS)and they're winning. From access to subject matter experts, ongoing management and state-of-the-art equipment, to security and network detailed design, the benefits of WiFiaaS are endless. 

Improved standards have made the idea of going wireless much more attractive. "Cutting the cord” can mean a more flexible and collaborative work environment. The ability to work with wirelessly connected devices inspires a more open environment, and that flexibility can pay significant dividends in productivity, innovation and employee satisfaction. Without the restriction of a physical connection, company culture can encourage positive interaction between coworkers and a working process that allows for collaboration on any project, regardless of size.

Risks of Unsecured WiFi 

As WiFi has evolved and grown, it has inevitably attracted the attention of bad actors. Unsecured WiFi remains a favorite hunting ground for hackers and identity thieves looking to swipe personal information from unsuspecting victims. Varied techniques—from physical tampering with wireless routers to sophisticated jamming and packet sniffing—are employed to gain access to unsecured computers and steal sensitive data. Greater adoption of WiFi-only means a more expansive surface area for threats to attack. The explosive rise of IoT devices, in particular, has raised questions about widespread vulnerabilities in connected but improperly secured devices. 

To safeguard sensitive data, mitigate risk and educate employees, businesses must use secured connections and implement cybersecurity training company-wide. When evaluating potential WiFiaaS providers, ensure they offer robust security solutions to protect your environment. Key considerations to keep top of mind are proactive monitoring, upgrades, on-call support, WiFi network security and traffic profiling, and frequent surveys to optimize utilizations.

The Future is Wireless

The novelty of wireless connectivity has long since been transformed into an industry-standard, offering enormous potential for businesses looking to untether themselves from the limits of wired connections. The once-common reality of tangles of wires is giving way to a new, gradually cable-free state of technology, with wireless connectivity at the center. Freeing users from ethernet cables while maintaining the lightning-fast Internet speeds we've come to expect gives us the best of both worlds. As standards and workplace technology continue to improve, one thing is clear: the future will undoubtedly contain lots of wireless devices. 

Click here to learn more about how Align's WiFi as a Service can help you create a digital workplace that’s connected, secure and collaborative.

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“Align is our trusted provider for all our Managed Services and cybersecurity needs. They provide us best-in-class IT services that not only help drive productivity and growth, but ensure we meet both current and evolving compliance and security requirements with ease. As consultants to financial advisors, trust and reliability are indispensable to our operations, which is why we never hesitate to refer Align to our very own client base. Align isn’t just our partner, they are an extension of our team. We look forward to entrusting them with our IT infrastructure for years to come.”

Ed Fasano - Experienced Advisory Consultants LLC