As technology has evolved, faster connection speeds have helped to slightly ease that burden. However, because currently installed access points are typically comprised of older wireless technology, they often struggle to compete with the speed and reliability of wired connections. In fact, the number of users and devices simultaneously operating at many SMBs can easily override any incremental increase in overall bandwidth, with the result being slower access times, unreliable connections and lost productivity.
The introduction of 802.11.ac Wave 2 with Multiple User, Multiple-Input and Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology takes a big step towards eliminating many performance problems in shared environments. MU-MIMO technology helps improve the overall performance and efficiency of an entire Wi-Fi network by enabling MU-MIMO capable client devices to share spectrum.
Introducing MU-MIMO technology to SMB environments can immediately upgrade the performance of the entire mobile office. Whereas users might have felt a bit of an uptick when moving to a faster connection, those gains were often quickly overridden by the strains of multiple users tapping into the same pipe with little control or oversight as to how the bandwidth was managed. Instead, MU-MIMO enables multiple MU-MIMO devices to communicate using shared bandwidth, resulting in faster download speeds for all. The result is a faster and more reliable Wi-Fi, and one that can completely open up the gigabit wireless pipeline, increasing performance for all connected devices across the board and giving priority access to the most important or bandwidth-intensive applications using each access point. That better performance will translate into better productivity for SMBs competing in tight markets.
While most SMBs operate on a two to four-year upgrade cycle for equipment, moving to wireless technology that supports MU-MIMO right now may be a better business decision compared to waiting. The connectivity problems and the productivity drain SMBs are experiencing today won’t go away if ignored. They will continue to grow over time until fixed. The problems might be annoying today, but they could be debilitating tomorrow. SMBs need to invest in technology that helps them successfully scale for future growth.
Easy SMB IT with a MU-MIMO Access Point
Supporting multiple users and devices connecting wirelessly has always been a challenge. Even for large enterprises with massive IT staffs, the burden of balancing multiple access points creates a big drain on resources. For many SMBs with small or non-existent IT support, adding multiple APs, ensuring that they are operating on non-competing channels and locking down the security of each one against unauthorized access can become an almost insurmountable task. But prior to MU-MIMO, the only alternative was to let user connections stack up and suffer the performance and productivity hit for doing so.
MU-MIMO access points are relatively easy to install, and typically can be ceiling-mounted or wall-mounted like traditional APs. SMBs should look for MU-MIMO APs that support Power over Ethernet, so even challenging deployment spaces such as overhead ceilings can be used with Ethernet cables and no need to drop new power lines.
Once placed, a MU-MIMO AP will serve up MU-MIMO benefits to individual connections to clients with AC Wave 2 receivers. While many new notebooks, tablets and or smartphones will come equipped and ready, even older equipment can easily be upgraded to MU-MIMO. Older laptops can benefit from MU-MIMO with an inexpensive USB MU-MIMO Adapter, which can be found for under $60. Plugging in this USB dongle can give older equipment new wireless life in one quick step.
When gigabit 802.11ac connections are optimized using MU-MIMO, a single access point can serve more clients as compared to older APs. However, larger SMBs, those that have many devices, or those which are physically spread out may still need to add additional APs to obtain total wireless coverage.
To keep down the IT burden, SMBs should look for a feature called clustering. Clustering works by designating a single AP as the master unit within the cluster. Thereafter, any changes or configurations made to the master will automatically be pushed out to every other AP. And clusters can contain up to 16 APs, allowing most SMBs to deploy more than enough APs to cover their organization while still maintaining a single point of administration.