It goes without saying that gone are the days for Wired connections. Sure, they're necessary infrastructure to even get the services delivered in the first place - but as far as consumers are concerned, nobody likes being held hostage in one place by the wires and cables.
Thanks to Wi-Fi, pretty much everything has (or has the potential to) become viable tools of connectivity. Phones, laptops, gaming devices, televisions, tablets, and watches are only some of the most popular tools we use today to reach the world wide web. Add everything 'smart' to this list, and the magnitude of connectivity (and potential of) within the walls of our premises, are endless.
We don't stick to a ten-square-foot office space anymore.. we're mostly mobile and we expect to take the connectivity with us. Not only that, but we expect it to work the same, or better, no matter where we go.
So. We have to ask ourselves. Is Wi-Fi truly sufficient for all our indoor (and outdoor) wireless connectivity needs?
The building managers, owners, enterprise managers, community managers, and even solutions architects are now getting more and more curious to figure out which In-Building-Wireless (IBW) solution is sufficient for their needs. The answer doesn't come easy. In fact, getting this answer right is more arduous than the implementation itself. However, what is almost always true is that Wi-Fi coverage singly cannot meet all the enterprise (and even residential) user demands. Wi-Fi alone cannot constitute a whole enterprise IBW solution.
There are many options, Small Cells and DAS being the most popular, and it's also true that Wi-Fi certainly has a space of its own in the solution mix. But no - it alone cannot perform to meet the superior user-expectations. And yet, it is one wireless solution that is almost always assumed in all environments - enterprise, residential, and public spaces. It is offered everywhere, and we can't go anywhere and not have access to some form and capacity of Wi-Fi connectivity.
Whether it is the few nights' stay at the hotel, or a few hours' of overlay in an airport. Whether you're at the corner table in your local coffee shop, or you're lounging at the lobby of a building. As long as you're checking and responding to emails, surfing websites, and using applications that aren't bandwidth-hungry, Wi-Fi can be a sufficient tool. Even then, the quality of your experience depends vastly on the number of users on the network and type of applications they're using!
The very fact that Wi-Fi uses unlicensed, unregulated frequencies bands is also what makes the performance of Wi-Fi so unreliable. Using unlicensed bands allows the enterprises to build and setup a network far swiftly than other IBW solutions, and is sparred from the regulatory overheads. The downside of this is that you lose the control over the network effectiveness, reliability, security, and adequacy.
Other IBW solutions, ones that use licensed bands, perform far better than Wi-Fi does, because the building owner and manager gets the right to choose their spectrum.
Wi-Fi alone could be the sufficient solution for some enterprise environments - especially if they do not require and expect superior performance - or security and reliability for that matter. Hotel lobbys, retail spaces, coffee shops, restaurants and similar spaces provide wireless connectivity for their users for convenience and perk, rather than an intrinsic foundation and asset for business operations & performance.
Wi-Fi certainly has a seat at the bigger IBW table - but whether or not it is a solution sufficient for your enterprise needs is a business question you have to ask yourself.