Tech Guide: Not Quite A Wi-Fi Ethernet World - InformationWeek

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10/31/2003
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Tech Guide: Not Quite A Wi-Fi Ethernet World

Demand for wireless Ethernet is causing companies to upgrade their switches, and that's good for the overall Ethernet market

Tech GuideWireless Ethernet, or Wi-Fi, isn't running at Fast Ethernet speeds, let alone gigabit. The top theoretical speed for 802.11g is 54 Mbps, a relative tortoise in today's market. But demand for wireless Ethernet is one thing that's causing companies to upgrade their switches, and that means good things for the overall Ethernet market.

Jim Johnson, a networking veteran at Intel who runs its wireless networking group, expects that in the not-so-distant future Wi-Fi will adhere to the five-minute rule: Wi-Fi access points will never be more than five minutes away by foot (in cities) or car (suburbs). Johnson thinks Wi-Fi is like a high school kid who scored a perfect 1,600 on the SAT and is a star in football, basketball, and baseball: The sky's literally the limit, and it's well on the way. Unlike Fast Ethernet and its follow-ons, wireless will be driven by the consumer market, though companies will follow closely.

Wireless Ethernet continues to hold promise for solving the last-mile problem, too. Some 90% of North American office buildings do not have direct links to fiber-optic networks, says Ken Davison, VP of marketing at DragonWave Inc., a fixed wireless broadband company. Davison says that broadband wireless Ethernet running at speeds up to a gigabit will be used to bypass phone companies and their T1 and T3 leased lines. (In fact, he says, phone companies will use Ethernet services to steal turf from rival carriers.) This may open up entire new markets for high-speed Ethernet services.

Return to main story, TechGuide: Every Little Gigabit Helps

Illustration by Doug Ross

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