Is wireless data networking here at last?

Wireless data networking has been promising to break out of a variety of narrow, vertical niche markets and begin its conquest of the broad, horizontal enterprise market for some time now, but the promise has gone unfulfilled

Technical innovations and standards development open new doors in wireless communications.

Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Wireless data networking has been promising to break out of a variety of narrow, vertical niche markets and begin its conquest of the broad, horizontal enterprise market for some time now, but the promise has gone unfulfilled. Why should we believe things are any different today? Here are three reasons to believe:

  • Market researchers are in agreement that the time is now. A recent report on the wireless local-area-network (LAN) market from Cahners In-Stat Group (Scottsdale, AZ) quotes Michael Wolf, senior analyst for the Voice and Data Group, as saying, "Wireless LANs will become a non-negotiable element of the enterprise network. Enterprise MIS managers are finally getting the speeds they want and the interoperability they demand, which will ultimately translate into strong sales." Allied Business Intelligence (ABI-Oyster Bay, NY) concurs, headlining a press release about its latest market-research report: "Large Wireless Data Market Begins to Emerge as 3G Comes into Focus." The ABI report predicts that wireless data users will rise from 26 million this year to more than 240 million by 2005.
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-New York City) has ratified a wireless data standard, IEEE 802.11b, that mandates interoperability among competitors' equipment and promises high-speed data interchange to a data rate of 11 Mbits/sec.
  • Major wireless data players such as 3Com, Lucent Technologies, and Cabletron have already launched 11-Mbit/sec wireless LAN product lines. About eight manufacturers have announced high-speed wireless data-networking products.

This business scene is the backdrop for Cabling Installation & Maintenance's "Wireless Data Networking" Special Report. In this report we present information-news, product write-ups, tutorials, and analysis-explaining why you, a group traditionally indifferent to wireless technology, should sit up and take notice of this fast-developing technology.

Dan Sweeney, technical columnist for Wireless Integration magazine, David Boothroyd, technical editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Europe magazine, and yours truly, group editorial director of four high-tech magazines in PennWell's Communica-tions Group, provide the coverage. News and new-product coverage includes the latest from this winter's ComNet and CTIA Wireless 2000 trade shows.

Among the high-speed wireless data-networking product lines covered are Lucent's recent Orinoco launch, enhancements to Cabletron's RoamAbout system, and 3Com's new AirConnect products.

The significance of these new products, all of which operate at 11 Mbits/sec, is obvious. It means that now a network manager can offer a company's employees wireless mobility within the enterprise's premises without sacrificing throughput, since most Ethernet LANs operate at around 10 Mbits/sec-even though they may be "futureproofed" for much higher-speed operation.

When these systems begin to be installed, mobility will no longer be a requirement just for warehousing, transportation, emergency services, and other niche industries. Wireless mobility will become a way of life in the enterprise, home, and public telecommunications network.

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