802.11n: Game-changer

* Latest wireless LAN spec changes approach to architecture

I've previously written about how the rise of wireless LAN equipment using the IEEE 802.11n standard is becoming a force to be reckoned with, and new data shows that the rate of migration to the new equipment is really "unprecedented."

Network World's John Cox this week reported on the results of a study by BT North America that showed enterprise companies moving to 802.11n in droves. Cox writes that nearly a third of enterprises are going to the standard within the next 12 months, and points out that such a move to a not-yet-ratified standard is unprecedented.

The attraction to 802.11n goes back for some time, and even a full year ago I noted that companies were overlooking the "Draft" in "Draft-802.11n" to get the higher-speed wireless capabilities. No doubt, the urgency reflects a pent-up demand for such capabilities.

Products based on 802.11n can see throughputs of up to 300Mbps at longer distances than you could achieve with previous WLAN standards - although, as Joanie Wexler wrote a few months ago, your mileage may vary. 

If enterprise companies really are willing to embrace 802.11n so strongly, this could change their network architectures fairly significantly. You could see a large number of clients accessing corporate networks via wireless as a default, rather than via wires. Supporting all of those clients involves network infrastructure and a host of security considerations.

Is that too high a price to pay for the added flexibility that WLANs offer? What do you think?

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