Network Services

What Is a Wireless Network? - Wi-Fi Network

A wireless local-area network (LAN) uses radio waves to connect devices such as laptops and mobile phones to the Internet and to your business network and its applications. When you connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot at a cafe, a hotel, an airport lounge, or another public place, you're connecting to that business's wireless network.

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What is a Wi-Fi or wireless network vs. a wired network?

A wired network uses cables to connect devices, such as laptop or desktop computers, to the Internet or another network.

A wireless network allows devices to stay connected to the network but roam untethered to any wires. Access points amplify Wi-Fi signals, so a device can be far from a router but still be connected to the network.

A wired network has some disadvantages when compared to a wireless network. The biggest disadvantage is that your device is tethered to a router. The most common wired networks use cables connected at one end to an Ethernet port on the network router and at the other end to a computer or other device.

What are the benefits of a Wi-Fi wireless network?

Businesses can experience many benefits from a Cisco wireless network, including:  


Access your network resources from any location within your wireless network's coverage area or from any Wi-Fi hotspot.


You're not tied to your desk, as you are with a wired connection. You and your employees can go online in conference room meetings, for example.


Wireless access to the Internet and to your company's key applications and resources helps your staff get the job done and encourages collaboration.

Easy setup

You don't have to string cables, so installation can be quick and cost effective.


You can easily expand wireless networks with existing equipment, whereas a wired network might require additional wiring.


Advances in wireless networks provide robust security protections.


Because wireless networks eliminate or reduce wiring expenses, they can cost less to operate than wired networks.

When building a small office network, the two most essential pieces of equipment you will need are switches and routers. Though they look similar, the two devices perform different functions within a network.

What is a switch?

What is a router?

Ultimately, a router works as a dispatcher, directing traffic and choosing the most efficient route for information, in the form of data packets, to travel across a network. A router connects your business to the world, protects information from security threats, and even decides which devices have priority over others.

Tips for Success

Tips to help you build the best network for your small business

  • Consider business-grade switches and routers. Consumer or home-networking products will not deliver the reliable communications your small business needs or keep pace as your business grows.
  • Technology should help you work more efficiently, not take time away from other projects that are critical to your business. Look for switches and routers that are easy to install, use, and manage. For example, choosing switches with inline power will allow you to place equipment, like wireless access points, anywhere there is a network wall jack. You will not have to worry about installing additional electrical outlets or wires to power devices.
  • Design your network with reliability and redundancy in mind. This will help give you the business continuity you need to recover quickly from unplanned events.
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