Networking

WLAN perfect fit for old buildings, mobile needs

The situations where WLAN is a good fit

When a networking environment demands mobility or a noninvasive set up, a wireless LAN may be the best solution. While wireless LANs can’t reach the speed of cable networks, a slow network is better than none at all. In this article, I will examine two cases where wireless networking was the only practical option.

Perfect for historical buildings
Wiring an older building for a network can be a nightmare. I know; I have done my share of it. In Great Britain, I’m often faced with problems that are inherent in wiring historic buildings. Running CAT5 cable through some of these buildings would be akin to cutting out the eyes of the Mona Lisa and replacing them with blinking lights. Obviously, any work involving alterations to historically listed buildings must be done with great sensitivity and care. This is exactly why wireless networks are a great way to provide older buildings with modern communications.

The museum in my old hometown is housed in a historic building upon which the Department Of The Environment has placed a preservation order. Over the last eight centuries, this building has fulfilled a number of roles—none of which have made it suitable for a modern computer network.

When I was a child, this museum was dark, musty, slightly spooky, and, most of all, very dull and boring. To liven the facility up a bit, the museum authority asked for permission to install a more up-to-date lighting system and computer network. After a long legal battle, the museum was finally allowed to install new lighting, but the authorities were immovable on the subject of data cabling. Thanks to a wireless LAN, the museum is now equipped with the right technology to move beyond being dull and gloomy.

Building a mobile network
Wireless networks are also a great option for portable applications. A local software training company that provides on-site training is a perfect example. In the past, the trainer would bring several desktops to a client’s premises and network them together. This required a van and driver to carry these heavy machines around, and it also took a considerable amount of time to set up a cable network at the client’s location.

Today, this company uses a wireless LAN and several laptops. The setup time has been greatly reduced, there are far less cables that could cause tripping hazards, and the whole caboodle can be loaded into the boot of a small British car. The savings in setup time has allowed the van driver to learn about computers and begin teaching, effectively doubling the company’s training capacity.

Share your wireless stories
Have you used wireless technology to solve a network nightmare? Having read Jeff’s article, are you more likely to consider wireless LANs as a practical option for certain environments? Post a comment or write to Jeff Dray and share your thoughts.

 
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