Mesh Wi-Fi has been the latest talk in the consumer space this year, but enterprise-level organizations have been using mesh networks for years to extend their office space, secure their networks and easily connect near-range mobile employees in rural or mining operations.
Though the limited budgets and reduced technology capabilities of smaller businesses in the past prevented SMBs from taking advantage of mesh-networking flexibility, recent increases in Internet speed have helped businesses of all sizes tap into the wide-ranging benefits that mesh offers.
One of the biggest benefits SMBs are now experiencing with mesh is their newfound ability to drive business forward using IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
What Is Mesh Networking?
Mesh networking is a long-standing method of easily extending Wi-Fi range throughout an area, such as a large office or even an outdoor space, without having to manage multiple networks or a complex arrangement of integrated routers. Using a single Internet access point as a base signal, the mesh system boosts your Internet signal through well-placed “nodes” (signal repeaters) that can eliminate Internet dead zones in your offices.
In the past, mesh networks were solely of interest to larger enterprises, as these companies were the only ones that could afford the ultra-high-speed connections mesh required. Though mesh networks do effectively extend an Internet signal, the signal strength ever-so-slightly reduces when it “hops” (extends) through a node; you can imagine how this was a serious problem with old, slow broadband connections.
Fortunately, today’s Internet speeds for SMBs often reach 400 Mbps to 1 Gbps, which far exceeds what most of us need. Speed has made signal-strength worries no longer an issue for most businesses.
One of the coolest things about mesh networks is that they’re not limited to broadband signals. They can also be used to extend cellular networks and Bluetooth connectivity – in fact, your IT staff could actually daisy-chain your office’s Bluetooth-enabled devices such as smart light bulbs, smart TVs, tablets or even hands-free devices together for easy, remote device control and operation.
Honestly, how much more futuristic can it get?
Using Mesh with Your IoT Devices
Although it’s a cool party trick, SMBs don’t often choose to daisy-chain their Bluetooth devices into a mesh network. This makes sense, because mesh can do so much more for businesses.
Since mesh networks inexpensively and effectively extend Internet range, they’re usually used to ensure that IoT devices reliably communicate real-time data around the clock.
This capability is especially effective for healthcare providers that need to monitor medical devices or supplies 24/7, and also for warehouses and manufacturing plants that need insight into their industrial automation tools. However, reliable, real-time IoT data can provide impressive flexibility for any business that plans to use IoT in the coming years.
Is a Mesh Network a Good Idea for Your Business?
You may want to consider implementing a mesh network for your company in the New Year if:
- You intend to expand office space or open up a temporary, pop-up location
- Areas of your offices have dead zones
- You wish to expand Internet connectivity outdoors to enhance employee wellness programs
- You’re frustrated with managing multiple passwords for your current network extenders or additional routers
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices have poor connectivity in your location
However, take note that if your offices rely on Power over Ethernet (PoE), mesh will not be a viable option – and, of course, if you have limited power outlets in the locations you want to extend your signal to… well, mesh probably isn’t for you.
Luckily, even if you can’t leverage mesh networks in your business, there are many other ways to empower your company with the benefits of IoT.
Make IoT a Reality with a Fast, Secure Network
Gartner predicts that 95% of electronics will use IoT technology by 2020, which means that forward-thinking companies have no time to lose when planning their in-office IoT strategy.
If you’re curious to learn more about your network extension options so you can better use IoT devices at your company, you’ll want to focus your next hiring efforts on finding an experienced network engineer with a range of abilities in traditional / Ethernet networks, as well as a deep understanding of business IoT technology implementation.
Ready to take advantage of the newest trends but can’t find the time to look for the right employee? ISG OnDemand can pair your company with the perfect individual, who has the perfect skills – and they’ll be the perfect fit for your culture too.
Contact ISG to learn more about your networking options so you can start using IoT effectively in the New Year.