Four components of a robust wireless strategy

March 22nd, 2024 by · Leave a Comment

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Stephen M. Kowal, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Nextivity

Any successful collaboration at work relies on readily available connectivity. The surge of remote and hybrid work necessitates virtual collaboration, meaning teams cannot function properly without internet connectivity. Nowadays, connectivity dictates how we work, how quickly we are able to get things done, and impacts the quality of our interactions.

Connectivity is not only for people, but also needed for machine-to-machine (M2M) data relay. With the rising use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, information flows rely on robust connectivity. Without up-to-the-moment data, businesses risk making wrong decisions or delaying mission-critical action. This supports the idea that the key driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is data, whether it is private (from sensors on the factory floor or other areas of a building) or public (such as weather or traffic data). Data forms the bedrock of smart businesses and our information economy at-large.

For many facility managers, maintaining reliable wireless connectivity is as vital as ensuring a steady flow of electricity and water. As more and more businesses embrace digital tools, automation, and IoT devices, a complete wireless strategy that includes Wi-Fi, public cellular, private cellular, and IoT connectivity is critical. All four components are necessary, as each enables specific business applications and technology.

  1. Wi-Fi

Thanks to the ease and low cost of set up and use, Wi-Fi is everywhere today. Good business Wi-Fi makes it easy for devices to move across locations seamlessly without signal interruption. In a healthcare setting, staff can use Wi-Fi to track the usage and location of expensive X-ray machines or other medical equipment on hospital grounds, providing real-time information to management and operational teams on system availability and use.

However, since Wi-Fi is a shared medium, it can create problems with congestion and signal interference. Any interference sources – including microwave ovens, nearby Wi-Fi access points, wireless cameras, smart TVs, hot-spot nodes, and even building materials and walls – can prevent transmitting signals and cause delays. To support business-critical operations, interference cannot be tolerated, which is why Wi-Fi needs supplemental technologies to enable robust connectivity.

  1. Public cellular

Public cellular networks are networks provided and managed by a third-party telecommunications provider. Big names like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the United States dominate this space, providing service nationwide through their cell towers.

In today’s hyper-connected world, reliable connectivity should not be a pain point but a basic requirement. Unfortunately, things like building materials and bad weather still obstruct cellular signals, causing the persistent problem of indoor dead zones. To overcome these obstacles and ensure employees can take full advantage of the benefits of public cellular, businesses need to account for cellular coverage solutions in their wireless strategy. Improving cellular coverage within office walls enables everyone on site to stay connected and have access to reliable calling, texting, and data streaming for business-critical, personal, and emergency communication.

With public cellular, building owners are taking advantage of what’s already available, whether that happens when connectivity is strong enough without the investment of a cellular coverage solution or by using an off-air system to bring the power of the macro network inside the facility. However, public cellular networks alone aren’t enough within a complete wireless strategy, since they cannot guarantee the high throughput, low latency, and strong reliability modern businesses require.

  1. Private cellular

A private cellular network provides secure connectivity on a smaller scale with restricted access to trusted parties. This type of network provides greater security and allows network owners to control data usage and device prioritization with service-level agreements.

On cellular networks, the data transferred is by default encrypted. In contrast, Wi-Fi security requires the individual Wi-Fi network owner to install updates proactively and uses Wi-Fi protected access (WPA), which has a less secure encryption method – allowing anyone to enter with a password. Private cellular networks are generally more secure than Wi-Fi networks. Enterprises can also tailor private networks – LTE or 5G – for specific business needs and applications.

In terms of performance, private cellular networks are now capable of handling as much data as Wi-Fi since the introduction of the 4G standard. The biggest strength regarding bandwidth is the ability to handle significantly more devices on the network than Wi-Fi while also having a lower risk of signal interference. Since the network requires continuous monitoring from system integrators who routinely assess the network, private cellular offers minimal disruption from hand-offs.

  1. IoT devices

IoT devices are the fourth component of a comprehensive wireless strategy. These devices, which range from simple sensors to robotics, need to connect seamlessly to a network to keep business operations up to date and running smoothly.

Currently, IoT devices are advancing machine-to-machine communication to enhance both mission-critical and everyday business operations. For example, with IoT devices and sensors, manufacturing storage facilities can seamlessly communicate with production and supply chain to regulate operations and get real-time status updates on specific items, allowing them to lower the storage cost without compromising on customer facilitation.

However, until recently, leveraging IoT has been perceived as optional. Many building owners and managers have opted not to implement advanced IoT devices and corresponding cellular networks because of the perceived costs compared to the perceived ROI. However, as building owners and managers embrace IoT technology, the market for reliable connectivity will only grow faster.


A comprehensive wireless strategy is complete with these four technologies. Although a business may configure each component to tailor to its unique needs, Wi-Fi, public cellular, private networks, and IoT devices will be the guiding framework for which a modern, connected business can be established.

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Categories: Industry Viewpoint · Wireless

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