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[November 2, 2004]

Wireless LANs Go Mainstream as Security Improves; VoWLAN Looks Promising

Report From Infonetics Research


Wireless LAN technology continues to show strong growth potential and is now firmly part of the enterprise IT mainstream as vendors improve security and deliver enterprise-grade products, according to a study by Infonetics Research, User Plans for Wireless LANs, North America 2004. The number of laptops connected to both the wired and wireless LAN increases sharply between now and 2006, indicating a burgeoning mobile mentality, with wireless LAN as the cornerstone.

In the study of 240 small, medium, and large organizations using wireless LANs by 2005, security continues to be the number-one barrier to the adoption of wireless LANs, but organizations have begun to understand the threats and make better use of the robust security features vendors have strived to develop over the last year.

"Vendors are doing a good job of improving security features, and users are getting a grip on wireless security, but all threats are still considered important, and vendors continually need to address the lingering perception that wireless LANs are insecure," said Richard Webb, Infonetics Research's directing analyst for wireless LANs.

Wireless LAN switches and other new products are beginning to make an impact as well: Real-time administration of access control, followed by the ability to create and apply policies online, lead the list of important features for these products. Cross-subnet roaming support is also strongly rated by the study's respondents.

E-mail and Web browsing are currently the most popular mobile or location-based applications used over the wireless LAN, followed by wireless intranet, but more complex applications are soon to come. For example, mobile supply chain management and enterprise resource planning applications will be used by 49% of respondents who plan to enable mobile or location-based applications by 2006, indicating that enterprises are beginning to trust wireless LANs with some of their core processes.

One particularly promising area of wireless LAN application development is the extension of voice over IP telephony solutions over wireless LANs (VoWLAN). Only 8% of all wireless LAN respondents use VoWLAN now, but that jumps to 27% by August 2006, and of the large organizations surveyed, 33% will deploy by 2006.

"There are several handset vendors who have launched WiFi-enabled VoIP handsets, and with draft standards for quality coming, performance of VoWLAN is improving all the time, driving growth of this market," said Webb. "The ability to carry voice makes wireless LAN investment more justifiable and mobility makes VoIP more valuable, so it is natural that the two technologies are converging toward a powerful mobile voice solution."

The 242-page study takes a comprehensive look at the wireless LAN plans of North American organizations and the overall wireless LAN market through 2006. In addition to the 240 organizations participating in in-depth interviews for the study, another 450 organizations were queried in a separate survey to obtain a picture of general adoption of wireless LANs and to forecast future WLAN adoption.

For study excerpts or to purchase this study, please contact Larry Howard, vice president, at larry@infonetics.com or 916-933-3543.

Infonetics Research (http://www.infonetics.com) is an international market research and consulting firm covering the data networking and telecommunications industries in North America, Europe, and Asia. Infonetics helps companies develop, market, and sell products and services more effectively by providing objective analysis of end-users, service providers, and product manufacturers through in-depth research studies, quarterly market share and forecast services, and consulting and custom research services.

CONTACT: Richard Webb, Directing Analyst, Wireless LANs of InfoneticsResearch, Inc., +44 (0) 20 8290 1954, or richard@infonetics.com

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