Prepping the All-Wireless Network

Arthur Cole

Motorola got tongues wagging this week with the introduction of a new set of products that it says will usher in the era of the "all-wireless enterprise."


Talk of replacing miles of cables with robust RF technology has been around for decades, but the advent of new high-speed standards coupled with robust security and management capabilities may finally bring that vision to reality.


Motorola's approach lies in the new AP-7131 access point and the RFS6000 wireless LAN switch. The AP-7131 is the first "tri-radio" access point that conforms to the IEEE's high-bandwidth 802.11n standard. The benefit of a tri-radio is its ability to support multiple services, such as high-speed access, backhaul and intrusion protection.


To date, wireless networking has largely served as supplements to the wired world. But has the technology really evolved to the point that it could wipe out wires altogether? At the very least, many networks are likely to be dominated by wireless connectivity in the near term. Market analyst Jack Gold predicts that 75 percent of all enterprise end-point devices will go wireless by 2012.


The catalyst for all this activity is the 802.11n standard. With ratification expected later this year, manufacturers have been rushing out a slew of enhancements aimed at pushing performance to its limits. The past few months have seen advances in everything from data rate selection to improved TCP/IP bandwidth management.


Of course, wireless networks still need wires to deliver power to components. Or do they? This week, Siemens introduced a Power over Ethernet (PoE) solution for the 802.11n standard. The HiPath system delivers dual-radio service while remaining inside the wattage limits of the 802.3af PoE standard. The system has also been certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.


The all-wireless enterprise is certainly an intriguing idea, but it's hard to imagine many enterprises ripping out their wired infrastructure without some assurance of performance and security. What's needed now is a proof-of-concept -- an all-wireless network built from the ground up. Perhaps Motorola will be up to the challenge.

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