Wireless Connectivity at Your Request

What is it?

Market name standard Wi-Fi 802.11ac LTE ZigBee 802.15.4 NFC Bluetooth 802.15.1
Application focus Web, email, video Wide area voice and data Monitoring and control Payment and access control Cable replacement
Battery life (days) 0.5–5 1–7 100-1,000+ 1-7 1–7
Network size 32 1 Unlimited (2G.) 1 7
Data rate (Mbps) 870-1300 300 0.250 0.424 2-3
Transmission range (meters) 1-100 1,000+ 1-100+ 0.010 1-10+
Success metrics Speed, flexibility Reach, quality Reliability, power, scalability, cost Authentication, convenience Cost, convenience

Wireless encompasses a number of areas within your facility. It covers everything from using your smart phone in the building to using your tablet and possibly your laptop as well. In addition, some of the systems that are run within your building use wireless as well (sensors, HVAC, lighting, etc.).

When you use your smart phone to talk to someone, you are on the cellular network. This network typically uses 3G for voice, although some carriers are starting to use 4G (LTE) for voice (VoLTE). LTE is truly a standard for data so VoLTE operates in a similar way to VoIP. Only the latest phones have VoLTE capabilities and the carriers have not rolled this out nationwide yet.

Depending on the age of your device, your smart phone is most likely using LTE for cellular data service. Some older phones may use the 3G networks, but a majority of users are on LTE today. LTE speeds can exceed that of older 802.11 standards, so people may rely on the cellular network versus the Wi-Fi network. This is changing as Wi-Fi has come out with its latest version, 802.11ac, which has significant increases in speed and bandwidth. Another version is due to launch in late 2015 that will continue to improve speed and bandwidth.

Another area of wireless within your facility is the control of systems like HVAC, lighting and other sensors. These systems can be driven over a ZigBee® mesh network. These networks can grow to a large size and use small bursts of data to control and monitor these systems. In these networks, each device transmits data to surrounding devices. The data continues to flow until it is offloaded to an Ethernet network. This allows for easy data flow even if one of the devices experiences a fault.

Access control will drive an opportunity for technology such as NFC (Near field communication). Finally, Bluetooth® is an option for peripheral devices which are used without cords.

Exabyte forecast per month
Total offloaded mobile data traffic by 2019
Total 4G mobile data traffic by 2019
WiFi connectivity to tablets and PCs
Delivery Tool Application Considerations Impacts
Wi-Fi Phone, Tablet, Laptop, Fitness Trackers, Lighting Robust Wi-Fi to provide a data network with adequate bandwidth Employees and customers are able to access data anywhere. Allows for strong BYOD policy
LTE Phone, Tablet Laptop Cellular coverage at facility Employees and customers are able to access data anywhere. Allows for strong BYOD policy
ZigBee Sensor, Building Controls, Lighting Mesh networks to control building automation and devices Allows for growing network and retro-fit solutions
NFC Locks, Doors, Payment Systems Allows devices to control access – no longer just a card Fewer security/safety concerns due to lost cards
Bluetooth Cable Replacement Allows devices to drive numerous external peripherals Additional connectivity without cords

Why is it important?

There is an explosion of usage of wireless within your facility and you need to plan appropriately for this evolution. Everyone carries at least one device that uses wireless and many carry multiple devices (smart phone, tablet, connected watch, camera, etc.) The growth in data traffic shown in the charts will only continue in the coming years. These statistics confirm that it will continue to be driven by smart phones and tablets. Technology will drive your facility to use other wireless standards, such as, ZigBee, NFC and Bluetooth. Your facility needs to have a plan to deal with expanding wireless data needs whether driven by cellular data or Wi-Fi.

Contact Anixter

If you have questions about the updated article or which fittings to use, contact your local Anixter representative or call 1.800.ANIXTER.