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January 06, 2009

Can WiFi Replace Wired?

Many, if not most companies have already supplemented their wired networks with wireless capabilities to take advantage of the mobility options available with today’s devices, whether laptop computers, handheld devices, or WiFi (News - Alert)-capable VoIP endpoints. Quite simply, the convenience of being able to connect devices anywhere in an office exponentially increases productivity.

Take, for instance, a simple staff meeting. Traditionally, an hour could be spent discussing internal and client-facing issues, during which most people in the room might have little involvement during many discussions. On the other hand, with a laptop in front of them, they have the ability to respond to emails or accomplish other tasks that would otherwise require their attention later.
Of course, there is much more to WiFi technology than just keeping up with emails during meetings — though for people whose emails amount to four figures daily, that’s no small advantage.
Still, the ability to generally accomplish business tasks anywhere in the office environment, or personal tasks around the home, means the limits of having to remain within a cable’s length from a network port are no longer. 
Of course, wireless technology has typically had the down side of having limited bandwidth, which has limited its effectiveness, especially with the growth in multimedia applications, both at work and in the home. The use of both voice and video communications and other applications places a natural strain on any network resource, which is magnified by low-capacity wireless technology.
Wireless-N technology, of course, has provided a significant boost to wireless capabilities, and enables users to maximize the potential of their applications in a wireless environment. But, the media that has to travel across these WiFi connections is likewise growing in size. It’s a continuous power struggle between access technology and media.
Companies like D-Link, however, are providing a boost for the access side. In fact, D-Link (News - Alert) has unveiled its latest device, which offers a significant throughput improvement over previous 802.11 routers. Its D-Link Extreme N 450 Dual Band Router brings users a 50 percent or greater increase in throughput over most common routers today — as much as 450 Mbps. The new router is based on new chip technology that enables dual-stream technology, which results in the increase in capacity.
“It is the next evolution in WiFi performance technology,” according to AJ Wang, D-Link CTO.  “
The Xtreme 450 features compatibility with Intel’s Centrino 2 processors, includes both WAN and LAN gigabit ports, printer sharing features, and dual-band performance, along with three antennas and D-Link Green technology for the environmentally conscious user.
But the specs aside, the benefits are simple. With the growing use of video technologies, not to mention VoIP, the requirements for WiFi routers is only going to continue to grow in order to accommodate higher bandwidth media and applications. Time is money, after all.
Imagine, for instance, having to run network cables to every device at every booth at next month’s INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO in Miami. It’s much easier to deploy a WiFi router at your booth and connect your various devices wirelessly — not to mention it eliminates the unsightly wires that would adorn your booth space. With the latest WiFi technology, exhibitors are able to offer effective demonstrations that would not long ago have been impossible without wired connections. Come to Miami February 2-4, and be sure to check out the collocated 4G Wireless Evolution event for the absolute latest in wireless technology.
Tradeshows are but on example of a temporary deployment where WiFi technology is of obvious benefit. But quite frankly, the continued growth of the wireless space has to make one wonder when wired business networks will go the way of the PSTN. Not for some time, especially given security concerns, but it offers food for thought. Certainly, the home network is quickly becoming a wireless environment, which will only drive the business networking space, as it often does.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Managing Editor of TMCnet, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to nearly 3,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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