MU-MIMO is Now Open for Business – Enhances Productivity and Collaboration in the Workplace
Many SMBs have learned that providing wireless access to their customers can result in a more positive interaction and a better overall customer experience. But doing so using older technology not only bogs down the network even further, but also could become a security risk. Both problems can be alleviated using MU-MIMO APs designed for SMBs with a Captive Portal service. With Captive Portal, patron-based businesses can allow for secure guest access that is completely walled-off from the core network. Guests get all the advantages of MU-MIMO including fast and efficient wireless access without posing a negative impact or a possible security risk to the core business.
Additionally, some Captive Portals can allow for an additional touch point between a business and its customers. MU-MIMO APs that support Captive Portal allow for a customized landing page to be provided for guests which can express anything from an overall company message to the sales and specials of the day. Guests get everything they could want in wireless access, provided in a branded environment, and pose no danger to the core network.
With the core network used by employees, another major trend in computing that contributes to the wireless burden for many SMBs is collaboration. For an SMB, collaboration can provide a critical competitive edge, whether within the organization or even working with a client to help tailor a product or service specifically to their needs. This can be done in a variety of ways, but almost always involves sending or sharing files. Even files that are synced to the cloud using a tool like Dropbox first need to travel through the local wireless network, further straining resources.
Certain programs like the popular Microsoft SharePoint document management platform, which allows browser-based collaboration, have also become critical for many SMBs, but chew up wireless bandwidth with constant downloads and file syncing. As more users take advantage of programs like SharePoint, wireless performance will continue to degrade.
File sizes also continue to grow over time as more features are added to applications like Word and Excel. Adding multimedia like graphics, movies or sound files to presentations can increase their sizes tenfold. While these files might not crush a wireless network individually, multiple users sending them over a network can become a death of a thousand cuts for strained SMBs.
Finally, even if an SMB is still several years away from a planned upgrade, they may already have the equipment in place to take advantage of MU-MIMO. And this is especially true for organizations with robust BYOD programs. Most client devices constructed after 2016 will be Wave 2 compliant. Not adding a MU-MIMO access point is like throwing away a productivity boost that already exists within the business. And older equipment can be upgraded for MU-MIMO with inexpensive USB dongles as a stopgap fix until the next full upgrade cycle.
Catching the Wave in SMB
An enterprise with size and scale has inherent advantages over a small business; however, as it pertains to Wave 2, a smaller, nimbler organization has a leg up on its large competitors. While enterprises may be hesitant to make the jump and overhaul their networks, especially those that spent money on Wave 1 technology, a small business is agile and flexible – and can more easily and quickly install Wave 2 equipment and overcome the key deployment challenges that larger enterprises face with this upgrade.
For small businesses that haven’t deployed 11ac yet, it makes sense to skip Wave 1 and move right to the new spec. Wave 2 equipment may cost a bit more, but it will extend the lifecycle of the deployment, resulting in cost savings in the end. This puts many small businesses in the unique position of being able to quickly deploy and start gaining the benefits of faster and more efficient Wi-Fi networks with MU-MIMO technology before their larger competitors.
The advantages when adding MU-MIMO technology to an SMB are immediate, and the need is great. However, while there are a number of Wave 2 access points marketed to large enterprises, most aren’t affordable or even suitable for SMBs. SMBs now have an option – the first MU-MIMO access point purpose-built for small business recently launched onto the market.
For those interested in deploying MU-MIMO, look for APs that are easy to deploy and manage, affordable, able to maximize those critical wireless connections in multi-user environments, and only offer the features that small businesses will use. MU-MIMO products can add efficient wireless technology and the associated productivity benefits to your SMB organization.