Don’t Forget Computer Wiring in Public Building Design
By Phil George
There are pros and cons to using physical wires (CAT 5), fiber optic, or wireless 802.11. Wireless is great in many respects because it’s inexpensive to install, but its major disadvantage is bandwidth or speed. With physical wires you have a larger bandwidth, up to gigabit/sec (billion bytes per second) versus megabit/sec (million bytes per second) for wireless – a difference of day and night. If all you’re doing is browsing the Web, then wireless should do fine. However, for other data processing tasks like printing large documents, and running business applications with database backend, then the productivity loss is not worth the cheap cost of wireless. Again, every business need is different so you need to consult with your solutions provider.
Even in the great United States, wired networks are still king. In the last few years copper has been yielding to fiber optic, which is the fastest medium so far. All buildings are wired for computer networks as you would for electricity. Wireless is an extension of the physical network, not the main backbone of it because it can’t handle extremely high demand. However, for a small office wireless may be just fine.
Also in Liberia where our buildings are made of concrete, wireless networks like their cell phone counterpart is susceptible to interference by physical objects like thick walls, and terrestrial objects. In that case you will have to install many access points (AP) to overcome attenuation which could become very expensive. Therefore you may be better off installing CAT 5 if you’re constructing a new building or renovating.
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