Smart Building

How BYOD Impacts Enterprise Networks

Sean McCarthy

Just a few years ago, conversations about BYOD (bring your own device) environments centered on whether or not these types of programs should be supported in the workplace. Before BYOD, enterprises could count on one device (normally a computer) per user connected to the networkand plan accordingly.

Fast forward and we’ve moved beyond the question of whether or not to support BYOD. A November 2017 TechRepublic Insights article reported that 72% of U.S. workplaces will be adopting BYOD in the year to come and many businesses are preparing s in advance of streamlining integration. By 2021, Cisco predicts that each person in North America will average 13 networked devices/connections being carried with them. It’s a BYOD world, and everyone takes their devices everywhere. When committing to a BYOD environment, however, it’s important to understand the increased traffic growth that’s created as a result.


Even if your organization doesn’t yet support a BYOD environment, laptops, tablets and smartphones are likely already making their way onto networks. In a school for example, mobile devices are brought into the building by students, teachers and staff. In hospitals, guests, visitors, administrative staff and clinicians all have devices within reach.


One thing we know for sure is the number of devices people carry with them will continue to increase as the Internet of Things (IoT) takes hold. In the not-too-distant future, it will be more than laptops, tablets, smartphones and smart watches connecting to our networks. Even wearable devices may connect, tracking standing duration, as well as number of steps and pace, during the day.


As the number of devices continues to increase, your network inevitably takes a hit. It can quickly and easily become overloaded if it wasn’t designed to handle this increase in devices. A network designed to support a certain number of users and devices suddenly supporting three or four times those numbers can result in slowdowns and bottlenecks.


Because most devices will connect wirelessly, a BYOD environment impacts wireless connectivity as well—more devices mean more wireless access points (WAPs) and a cabling infrastructure to support them.


Where to Start?

To get a handle on the impact of a BYOD environment on your network, the first step is analyzing what’s happening. Who and what are connecting to your network? Why are they connecting (what are they accessing, downloading or streaming)? How long are they connecting? Are they experiencing issues when they connect?


Considering Wireless

Next, analyze your WAPs and the wireless standard you’re using to see if they’re suited for your throughput needs. Wireless is rapidly evolving. To provide even more speed and reliability, IEEE 802.11ax—a new wireless standard set to be complete in 2019—will offer 10G speed capabilities and allow many people to be on a network at the same time while maintaining higher speeds and reducing connectivity problems.


The goal of this new Wi-Fi standard will be to improve average per-user throughput by a factor of at least four as compared to IEEE 802.11ac.


Analyze Cabling Infrastructure

A sometimes overlooked yet critical element of BYOD environments is cabling infrastructure. What type of cable is currently installed in your building? What bandwidth is that cable designed to support? Bandwidth refers to a channel’s capacity to pass bits of data (data transfer rate). A 10G cable for example, is designed to transfer 10G of data from one point to another in a given amount of time.


With more connected devices, including those that support IoT and smart building infrastructure, cables must also support increasing data rates (especially as the new Wi-Fi standard takes hold) and Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices can receive power and data through one cable.


Belden helps create solid, reliable and high-performing cabling infrastructures—or layer 0—ready for whatever the future brings. If you have questions about the impacts of a BYOD environment on your network or want to determine whether you’re in a position to support this transition, our infrastructure experts can help.