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Research: Wireless Nation 2011

Research: Why 802.11n Will Revolutionize Connectivity

Wireless Nation 2011

It's been a year since our first InformationWeek Analytics Wireless Nation report, and one thing we can say with certainty is that the industry is buzzing with activity. Worldwide, there are now more than 700 million people using 1 billion Wi-Fi devices, says Edgar Figueroa, CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance consortium, which creates WLAN device interoperability specifications. This coming year, Figueroa predicts that the number of devices will double, to about 2 billion. That's a lot of gear. Wi-Fi technology itself made a significant leap forward late last year, when 802.11n was formally
ratified; 802.11 can now claim throughput commensurate with copperconnected devices, and enhancements have been added that increase reliability. In our InformationWeek Analytics 2011 Wireless LAN Survey of 339 business technology professionals, the number of organizations using 802.11 WLAN technologies as a network access method for end users on a large scale, and growing it, inched up four points over last year’s poll.

On the vendor side, manufacturers have been busy refining their products and pushing sales teams to make the case that Wi-Fi is now ready for prime time and that the copper cord should be cut at the access layer. As far as 802.11n products you can actually purchase, most have stated speeds of 300 Mbps, but in contrast to a year ago, 450 Mbps products are beginning to emerge in the form of high-end access points and end user device chipsets. Though mainstream products are not yet available for the 802.11n speed ceiling of 600 Mbps, expect manufacturers to get there soon. Finally, there’s the role of Wi-Fi in saving carrier cellular networks from the voracious data appetites of smartphone users.

All in all, 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year. Here’s our take on what the coming months hold for IT teams charged with mobilizing, and improving the wireless user experience, for employees and guests. (R1811210)

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