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WLAN phones ideal for healthcare

Mar 09, 20043 mins

* Readers: wireless LAN phones best for healthcare, other applications

Several readers wrote me in response to last week’s article about Nortel’s efforts to send voice over wireless LANs. In particular, they pointed out that the place where WLAN phones might be most useful is in the healthcare industry.

Nortel, as you’ll recall, updated its WLAN product line with voice capabilities and introduced WLAN phone handsets and a device to optimize the connections.

One reader, whose e-mail address indicates he’s in the healthcare business, wrote:

“This is potentially a hot product, in healthcare at least. For about 10 years now campus-range wireless phones have been extremely popular for docs and nurses. Some hospitals were actually able to save the space usually used for nurse stations by arranging things so that nurse call buttons cause wireless phones to ring. The lower power compared to cell phones reduces the chance of interference with medical telemetry, and there are no per-phone monthly bills.”

I find all of this very interesting, and I had no idea these phones would have such advantages over cell phones. This definitely looks like the best application for such technology, and the vendors are obviously aware of this; as the reader pointed out, Symbol Technologies has been making wireless LAN handsets for some time, with some success in the hospital market.

Further, the reader writes:

“Healthcare is a particularly good target since healthcare is starting to need WLANs for a number of other things, including, probably, wireless barcode readers for the newly mandated barcoded drugs. I think Nortel is rolling this out at just about the right time.  And I’m a Cisco bigot.”

There are other areas where such technology could be used, according to another reader:

“I am always finding a use for this type of mobility. In schools, for security guards, IT departments, in many different warehouse environments and assembly line environments.  There are always managers and supervisors that are seldom at a desk.”

Personally, I’m always chained to my computer, and therefore my desk, but that’s just the nature of my job.

Yet another reader pointed out that I had the wrong idea about which phone such newfangled handsets would replace:

“These wireless IP phones don’t replace the cell phone. They replace the 900-MHz wireless phone or wireless headset. Phone technical support, telephone order entry, inside sales, and all those of us who are trying to multiplex while we talk on the phone live and die by these limited-area mobile devices.”

Again – chain, computer, desk. As I’m writing this newsletter, that’s all I’m doing, and not really multiplexing. But that’s just me, and I appreciate those who wrote in with other perspectives.