NPI Technology Management Blog

Wireless Networks Past & Present–What’s Next?

- July 25, 2018

NPI Technology Management acts as your technology partner, strategic advisor and problem-preventer. When all your technology works as it should, projects get done on time, security is rock-solid and problems give way to productivity.

Resolute Partners has engineered, installed, and operated secure wired/wireless networks designed to meet demanding mission critical objectives, improve operating efficiencies, reduce costs, and create platforms for emerging applications and new technologies from energy management and controls to the Internet of Things.

Our companies both design, build, monitor and manage wireless networks. While our methods differ, our thoughts about the power and pitfalls of wireless are very similar.

Business Development Coordinator Dawn McGinnis recently had a conversation with Frank DeMasi, the VP of Information Services at Resolute Partners and John Burton, a Technology Consultant for NPI. We talked about wireless in its early days, where it is now and what the future holds.

DM: What challenges does the rapid adoption of IOT devices bring to wireless?

FD: Definitely security. In the past, the main concern with wireless was the quantity of devices, the areas they covered and making sure they all connect. Today that isn’t an issue as much as the dangers of putting all that information out there and no one knowing exactly how it all is working and how it’s being secured.

JB: We have a proliferation of (consumer) devices and don’t know their security features. IIOT (the Industrial Internet of Things) is so new that it’s not totally manageable yet which means that the devices can’t receive security updates.

DM: What are some other new uses for wireless?

JB: LoRa (Low Power Wide Area Networks) is used with parking meters to provide data on open spaces.

FD Wayfinding with Bluetooth Beacon allows people in a campus setting to access directions from exactly where they are to where they want to be. This has been an especially powerful tool for the VA.

What are your thoughts on LiFi, a wireless communication that works through light bulbs and has significantly higher speeds?

FD: This is a very interesting technology that works with the lights in your immediate area. Of course the lights have to be to work (laughs).

JB: For security or the need to access large files this is great because the data doesn’t “leak”. But the downside is that the data is only accessible in the room you are in.

FD: Yes, this holds back the ability to roam freely so a traditional, ubiquitous WiFi network needs to run parallel.

JB: Sure, that makes sense. So LiFi would work for CAD files, for example, and traditional would be used for email and other applications that need to be accessible everywhere.

FD: You’d want to do a cost/benefit analysis before adopting LiFi and remember that it only works in the line of sight.

DM: You both offer Wifi Management, what are the benefits?

FD: There are a lot of hats that company tech professionals have to wear and keeping up with IOT is one more thing to keep track of.  I suggest having them support your most critical business systems and outsource the rest so they can stay focused.

JB: SMB’s don’t have enough wireless to keep a full time employee busy so this is a prime area to outsource.

What are some other benefits of outsourcing?

FD: With wireless people are conditioned that it “should just work.”

JB: Mobile workers are a different beast, often impatient with no time to spare, and they want a skilled person to quickly respond. They have high expectations around the user experience.

FD: Another reason to outsource is that WiFi has a lot of nuances around how well it works. If not properly configured it will be well below capacity and works poorly as the business grows.

JB: So often WiFi starts as something “cool” to have then it becomes embedded in business processes. Pretty soon it is integral and, if it is not reliable, it can hold them back.

FD: Also, the devices used to connect to the network become more sophisticated and won’t work as well with an old/sub-optimized system.

JB: Older WiFi’s just don’t provide the level of security we need today.

DM: Of course I have to bring up the Cloud and Wifi…

FD: Traditional wireless need a controller appliance (with its own pros and cons) but the Cloud is by subscription so there is a monthly billing as opposed to a one-time purchase.

JB: The Cloud ensures that people are using the most current software.

DM: So a Cloud client can just set it and forget it?

FD: People assume it’s OK in the Cloud and no maintenance is required. Not true. Cloud-based wireless networks still require monitoring and maintenance to assure data thru-put, content filtering, network capacity and data security are being monitored, managed and keeping pace with business requirements. When they go to access info it’s got to be there.

DM: OK, guys, time to wrap it up.

JB: I see Wifi as the onramp to the future. Data gathering, robotics, AI are all going to rely on it—heavily. We need to think of WiFi as a highway and keep adding lanes so that these technologies can deliver.

FD: It’s going to connect everything in the future; wireless will be the conduit to more meaningful uses for IOT. Combine that with AI and it’s really going to explode.

John Burton is a technology consultant with NPI and works with business leaders throughout the Northeast with their technology planning and execution.  He is a thought leader for a variety of cutting edge technology subjects and writes frequently for the NPI blog at www.npi.net/news.

Frank DeMasi, Vice President of Information Technology, has transformed the company’s technology infrastructure to provide for increased flexibility and support for aggressive growth. Over the last 10 years, he has spearheaded the implementation and engineering of all RESOLUTE network and system designs, embraced wireless technology and transformed the company as technologies advanced and evolved.