Just how wireless can we get?

* 802.11n raises question of how much wireless we can take

With wireless LANs advancing rapidly, people keep raising the question, could we live without wires in our networks?

We have a whole other newsletter directed at wireless issues, but it is getting increasingly difficult to think of wireless as something outside of the rest of network architecture. Wireless is everywhere, it seems. Wireless is getting faster, with the advent of IEEE 802.11n (still in draft state, admittedly, but that's not stopping products from appearing). Wireless is becoming part of the network infrastructure of our nation's cities (although Chicago just took a step in the other direction).

I just did a search and found that I first touched on the issue of leaving wired networks behind four years ago. Back then the security issues had not been resolved, and that remained a sticking point. Interference and the limited bandwidth that WLANs provided were also cited as problematic.

Today, it seems, the security issues are still a challenge - and so are the interference issues, in a way. Joanie Wexler recently wrote in the Wireless in the Enterprise newsletter that, in the midst of speculation that some networks could go "all-wireless," we also have to consider the possibility of wireless-specific attacks - namely, jamming. As she points out, jamming your WLAN signal is essentially a denial-of-service attack, and it's certainly possible to do.

The real reason people are asking whether we can go all-wireless, or at least mostly wireless, is the new speeds we are starting to see with 802.11n. But is that enough?

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