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Is wireless just another medium?

Opinion
Apr 22, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksNetworkingWi-Fi

* Vendors treating wireless LANs as just another medium for their routers

It was bound to happen. With wireless LAN technology rapidly accepted by more users, the line between wired and wireless LANs is blurring.

My colleague at Network World John Cox has been following these developments in recent articles looking at new switches and routers that support wireless. Here are a couple in case you haven’t seen them:

Switches simplify WLAN deployment

https://www.nwfusion.com/news/2003/0414aruba.html

Start-up unveils WLAN router

https://www.nwfusion.com/news/2003/0421chantry.html

One theme that’s definitely emerging is a focus on Layer 3 functions, routing and a bit more intelligence than a standard switch can provide. Extreme Networks is simply extending its capabilities in the wired realm to wireless. And start-up Chantry Networks is selling a WLAN router.

Add to this the recent news that Cisco bought Linksys. Cisco is already talking about adding intelligence to the Linksys line.

This is all a very natural evolution. Like with any technology that gains runaway popularity, once it’s out there corporations want to get a handle on it. WLANs especially raise this issue when you consider all the security concerns folks have had about the technology.

That means better management and more intelligence are needed.

I think the products we are seeing develop here are just the beginning of the reining in of WLANs, so future products are bound to do a better job on the management front.

What should be avoided is thinking of WLANs as just another medium, like Category 5 cabling or fiber-optic lines. While WLANs may eventually get to the point where we don’t have special security concerns outstanding, we’re not there yet.

For those who are interested, a pointed debate on this topic can be found here:

https://www.nwfusion.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=307