Genwave is a Wi-Fi specialist, with several key partnerships. We support Ruckus, Cisco, Aruba, Meraki, Open Mesh, Fortinet-Meru and Allied Telesis. As a Design-Build Wi-Fi specialist, we will recommend the best solution for your situation.
What is an Enterprise Grade Wi-Fi Network (‘WLAN’)?
An Enterprise Grade Wi-Fi Network, often referred to as a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) is an additional layer to an organization’s wired network which allows select wireless devices access to the local area network using a robust and secure Wi-Fi connection. A WLAN will provide all of the access to network locations and files as a wired LAN, with the added advantage and efficiencies of enabling mobility.
The following is a network drawing of a fully functional WLAN with Corporate, Guest, Voice, Video and telemetry capability. While this level of WLAN is usually installed as an adjunct to the existing wired LAN, some companies moving into new facilities are going totally wireless. This is often more cost effective, as it eliminates the cost of installation of CAT5 or CAT6 cabling, switches and routers.
Why install a WLAN? The key advantages of a WLAN are control of costs, enhanced security and greater capacity (which provides better throughput speeds). The requirement for a WLAN is similar to that of a DAS with more workers desiring to use their wireless devices (‘BYOD’ or Bring your own device), however the WLAN system is focused on providing Wi-Fi access to the company’s employees or clients. The company gains the efficiencies and negates the risk of runaway data overcharges on cellular connections. There are many benefits to installing a WLAN:
- Employee efficiency is improved with ability to use their business tools reliably.
- Capacity. The organization has the ability to ensure adequate capacity for the growing data requirements of todays smartphones & tablets on a direct basis, not controlled by a third party (cellular carriers for example).
- Enhanced Security. Properly engineered networks have the ability to partition organization-specific private and confidential information by access, highly partitioned from external and internet access.
- Coverage is assured throughout an organizations facility or campus and can be upgraded as required without involvement of a third party provider.
Key drivers for a WLAN in Healthcare
- Reduce errors with direct input of lab orders, chart updates, prescriptions and other patient orders to MHealth applications. Further reduction of errors with direct access to results and updates sent directly to the clinician
- Improve diagnoses to achieve better patient outcomes. In a recent Board of Trade presentation by Greg Reed, CEO of Ontario’s eHealth, he outlined the relatively new capability of the eHealth platform to show meds prescribed and lab results on the same screen – allowing physicians to immediately spot anomalies. Increasingly, these capabilities are desired at the bedside.
- Reduce costs through increased efficiency, elimination of time to reach diagnoses and the elimination of redundant or unnecessary procedures.
- Share information across providers to achieve clinical integration. eHealth has recently launched a system to electronically transmit patient discharge information to the patient’s GP, eliminating the crucial 2-3 weeks of time that the manual system took to deliver the information. This elimination of time has been shown to allow GPs to support their patient’s modified meds or restorative routine more continuously from the care they received in hospital, reducing the rate of re-admittance to the hospital.
- Compliance with emerging regulations and risk management protocols.
- Hospital’s desire to have an enterprise platform that will ensure privacy and security consistent with internal or regulatory requirements.
Key drivers for a WLAN in Higher Education
- Multimedia and new teaching/learning applications. Increasingly, professors and TA’s are including multimedia and using social media to connect with students and broaden the learning experience. The increase of high definition video and other multimedia demands an enterprise system designed for both today’s and tomorrow’s requirements.
- Upsurge of devices. The typical user uses more than one Wi-Fi device (smart phones, tablets, laptops, wireless printers, scanners, etc) today and this is expected to continue to increase in the next few years.
- Campus employees are increasingly bringing their own devices and organizations have a desire not to incur data charges on a monthly basis.
- Many campuses were early adopters of the Wi-Fi platform with their systems now requiring an upgrade to newer technology. As an example, for the 2002 Educase case study of Wireless Networking in Higher Education, 150 of the 391 Educase members (colleges and universities) had already deployed a wireless network within their campus.
- Student involvement including Student’s Unions have a material impact in capital expenditures for student-enhancing systems.
- Several case studies state that wireless network implementation can benefit research departments immeasurably.
Key drivers for a WLAN in Hospitality
- In hospitality, travellers expect to have reliable wireless access to stay in touch with their office, their clients and most importantly, their family. This can also be an important differentiator or a source of revenue, based on the facility’s market positioning. A quote from the recent Wireless Infrastructure Conference states it well:
“A meeting planner that books a conference at a hotel with poor cellular coverage will only make that mistake once…” Source: The HetNet Forum
How is a WLAN installed?
There are 3 key phases to a WLAN installation and commissioning into operational status. Genwave Technologies, as a Total System Integrator, has the highly trained engineering and operations personnel to deliver the solution – on spec, on time and on budget..
Engineering & Design Phase
There are many factors to consider in the design of a WLAN, the main considerations are:
- Customer requirements – Voice, data, video. How much, where, concentration, etc.
- Size & nature of facility
- Building materials - RF friendly? Impact analysis
- Sources of potential interference or RF noise
- And much, much more!
Once the spec is finalized, the engineering design team goes to work to finalize predictions of coverage, installation plan and choose the optimal components.
Genwave Technologies installers are highly trained, fully safety certified and expert at WLAN installations. Our team will perform a professional installation (outside of standard business hours if required), testing each run and component as well as capturing key information to support the As Built documentation at the end of the project.
Once the system is installed and energized, a critically important process is performed – the system commissioning or optimization. This ensures that capacity and coverage are balanced as well as throughput speeds being nominal. Any sources of interference, including Passive Intermodulation (PIM), Active Intermodulation (AIM) or external sources are identified and resolved. Once complete, the system is commissioned into service.
Genwave Technologies will monitor the health of the system 24/7, perform preventative maintenance, restoral of service for any outages and ensure that firmware upgrades are tested and implemented on schedule. All system work is tracked on tickets which our customers can create, view updates and run reports on performance metrics.
There are three main ownership models for WLAN installations:
Tenant / User Organization
In this model, the organization makes the investment to add a wireless layer to the existing LAN or to upgrade to a wireless platform. Financial drivers for breakeven include efficiencies gained from mobility, offset a requirement to rewire a facility, upgrade an existing wired LAN, leasehold investment budget, etc.
With the Neutral Host model, the WLAN Aggregator will fund the design, build and operation of the WLAN. Capital cost of install is bundled into the monthly operating costs. In certain cases, Genwave Technologies will perform this role.
Landlord / Property Manager
In this scenario, the facility owner will fund the design, build and ongoing management. The emerging trend is for owners and property managers to see the WLAN infrastructure as a meaningful point of differentiation as well as a source of incremental revenue. The incremental revenue comes from charging an initial premium per square foot at time of leasing or charging for the ‘Fourth Utility’ on an operating basis.
- WLAN equipment sales exceeded $4 billion last year and have been growing at an average of 20% CAGR per year. (Source: IDC Report on Enterprise WLAN)
- Including installation and service revenue, the market is estimated to be over $10 billion worldwide.
- Service Providers are beginning to deploy WLAN equipment to augment broadband infrastructure or ‘offload’ traffic.
- There are now 26.5 million handsets in Canada (Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association) and Smart phones (including cellular equipped tablets) now make up 54% of cellular phones, up from 36% in June 2011 (Source: CommScope Jan 2012)
- Cisco prepares an annual report which monitors the development of mobile broadband and their report projects data traffic growth at a CAGR of 78% from 2011 to 2016, (Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2011–2016)
As we mentioned at the start of this primer, we’re seeing a significant growth in interest from Small, Medium and Enterprise clients initiating or upgrading WLAN installations. Increasingly, Medical practices are embracing the wireless functionality of their imaging and medical practice software.
If your organization is looking for a WLAN System Integrator, please consider giving us a call. We’d be happy to meet to discuss your requirements.