• United States
Contributing Writer

Wireless: How far we have come

Aug 06, 20033 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork SecurityWi-Fi

* What to expect at Network World's WLAN Technology Tour

When we did our Wireless LANs Technology Tour back in March, we talked about how the market would skyrocket as soon as 802.11g arrived. Well, with the ink barely dry on the IEEE’s spec – it was approved in July – we are setting out across the country again. And this time, expect a group of products and services well on their way to maturity.

In his keynote address, Tom Henderson, principal researcher at ExtremeLabs and a member of Network World’s Global Test Alliance, will chart how dramatically things have changed in the world of 802.11. He’ll explain what challenge, if any, 802.11g poses to 802.11b and 802.11a. He’ll also share his thoughts on the growing 3G wireless movement.

Henderson will be joined by a host of wireless companies, including Aruba, BlueSocket, Chantry Networks, Extreme Networks, Funk Software and Trapeze Networks. Also displaying products will be Agilent, Buffalo Technology and Newbury Networks.

The array of products these companies are rolling out is startling. From wireless switches to gateways to automated site survey tools, these companies are showing that the heat is on in the wireless world.

Obstacles are being overcome – the biggest being security. Two years ago, organizations were shying away from wireless networks, saying the risks were too high. Now, companies are deploying 802.1x and soon will be taking advantage of 802.11i to solve their security concerns.

Distance was another obstacle. Companies were worried that equipment costs would mount as they had to plant more and more access points throughout the buildings to cover any serious territory. But new specs are being worked on that tackle the distance issue and high-gain antennas are being rolled out that allow data to travel greater lengths.

IT managers were also worried about physical challenges such as elevator shafts and metal shelving that pose interference issues for radio signals. But automated site survey tools that are hitting the market can help you account for these dynamics and reroute accordingly.

It’s an exciting time for WLANs right now – there is tremendous momentum in product development and intense interest from IT managers. So much so that keynoter Tom Henderson has added a new element to the tour – the Crystal Ball. He’ll ask each presenter to look to the future and divine where this market is headed.

I ask you to do the same – what do you think is going to happen in the world of wireless that will fundamentally shift where we are today? Send your messages to>. And make sure you register for the Wireless LANs Technology Tour today at>.