Issue of January 2005
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Wi-Fi beyond the hype
WLANs and Wi-Fi are interrelated terms that have passed the crest of the enterprise technology hypecycle. Has the technology stabilised? What is new on the WLAN front? Read on for answers to thesequestions and more. by Anil Patrick R
The Wireless LAN (WLAN) is a technology that has been much talked about, perhaps even overhyped.From its first successful foray as 802.11b in the enterprise segment to the proposed WiMax and802.11n standards, the technology has evolved rapidly. This makes it a good time to take stock of what is happening on the WLAN front.The discussion starts with a look at the inroads that WLANs have made within India Inc, followingwhich is an overview of the latest technologies and trends in the WLAN space.
'Live life wirefree', 'productivity with no strings attached'; those were just some of the taglines pushing the Wi-Fi enterprise LAN a coupleof years back. However, the fact remains that Wi-Fi deployment inIndian enterprises is still immature when compared to itscounterpart, Wi-Fi campus connectivity.When examined closely, it can be seen that a majority of organisations that have WLANs in place belong to the hospitality andtravel (airports) verticals. In these cases, it is a simple case of providing additional value to their clients by providing WLAN access."WLAN adoption in India is still at a primary level although organisations have started adopting [thetechnology] selectively. Early adopters are organisations for whom it's business critical to haveWLANs, such as hotels and airports," said Satish Pendse, CIO, Kuoni Travel Group, India.Apart from these verticals where WLAN is of 'cosmetic appeal' or a factor providing competitiveadvantage, WLAN implementations have been need-specific. For instance, many Indian manu-facturers use WLANs on the shop floor to avoid strewing cabling across the work area while ensuringthat users are mobile. "Wireless solutions are more feasible for organisations where the networkinfrastructure is already in place and there is no buffer for extra cabling. It can also be helpful for thecampus LAN kind of environment where line of sight is not an issue," said Hilal Khan, ManagerInformation Systems, Honda Siel Cars India Ltd.Despite the availability of the technology for the last four years, most Indian organisations are wearyof hearing about the virtues of WLANs. This is largely due to the cost factor. Although WLANs havedecreased in price to a great extent, wired LANs are still much cheaper. Naturally, unless connectivityneeds dictate the usage of a WLAN, Indian companies prefer wired LANs.
WLAN adoption in Indiais still at a primary levelalthough organisationshave started adopting[the technology]selectively. Earlyadopters areorganisations for whomit's business critical tohave WLANs
Satish Pendse, CIO, Kuoni Travel Group,India
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