Mobile Workforce Group
This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today.
Mobility Continues to Drive Wireless LAN Implementations
- Mar 13, 2023 10:53 am GMT
A changing workforce and technical advances are forcing utilities to invest in wireless network solutions. The push to untether employees from their desks meant these organizations need to deploy more wireless solutions. The change enables energy companies to increase employee productivity and better support important applications, like collaboration.
Wireless local area networks (WLANs) support mobile connections. When the pandemic hit, utilities were forced to find new ways to let employees work. So in addition to the remote field service teams, office workers began to rely on mobile connections.
The change benefitted both the company, lower costs and more productive workers, and employees, more flexible working conditions. Consequently, interest in these systems is rising.
The worldwide enterprise WLAN market reached its highest quarterly revenue ever in the fourth quarter of 2022, rising 47.9% year over year to $3.35 billion, according to International Data Corp. For the full year 2022, sales grew 31.4% year over year and generating $10.0 billion
Wi-Fi Sparks WLAN Sales
Another factor driving growth is a recent wireless upgrade, from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. The new versions increase top transmission speeds from 6.9 Gbps to 9.6Gbps. Another plus is lower latency: Wi-Fi 5 operated with delays of tens or hundreds of milliseconds; Wi-Fi 6 cuts that number down to single digit milliseconds. The new networking solutions also include sleep functions that increase battery life as much as tenfold.
So, utilities are purchasing these systems. Wi-Fi 6 Dependent Access Points (APs) grew 36.8% sequentially from the third quarter to the fourth in 2022 and accounted for 82.8% of AP revenue. Meanwhile, Wi-Fi 6E, which expands Wi-Fi's use to the 6 GHz band of spectrum, saw rapid adoption with revenues almost doubling from the third to fourth quarter, reaching $209 million and making up 7.2% of AP sales.
A Sound Business Case
The faster network speed provides several benefits. Nowadays, every minute counts in business. In some areas, like field service, wired networks are too difficult to deploy. Wireless connections are a powerful tool that boosts productivity and promotes information sharing.
With untethered access to documents, emails, applications, and other corporate resources, employees can roam freely wherever they need to be but still be accessible if needed.
Wireless networks offer better support for mobility and collaboration. If a problem arises, employees can jump on a Zoom call from anywhere and at any time.
How work is done has been changing in utilities. With more employees roaming rather than sitting at their desks, these companies need flexible network options. WLANs offer them that option, so their use has been increasing.
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