Wi-Fi, Already a Hit, Grows More Sophisticated

Carl Weinschenk

People have a tendency to speak about businesses: SOHOs, small business, medium-size businesses and enterprises. That level of abstraction certainly is necessary. But it is just that: a level of abstraction. In reality, there are retail clothing stores, walk-in medical clinics, office buildings housing medium-sized publishing firms and multinational headquarters.


In other words, the business world is made up as much by verticals as it is by the size of companies, and each of these unique industries has its own special needs. The art of wireless local area networks (WLANs) is growing to the point, according to this Light Reading report, that customized and individualized treatment of specific verticals is possible.


The story, which focuses on a presentation by Accenture at the International CTIA Wireless conference this week in New Orleans, says there is a tremendous demand for engineers who understand the peculiarities of different industry segments. The story uses the oil and gas refineries as an example: Plants are densely populated by tanks and pipes, which makes layouts more complex than in normal set up. Engineers laying out the APs must understand this.


This is happening in a landscape in which the worlds of Wi-Fi and cellular of course are coalescing. The Wi-Fi Alliance's Passport program and the research it will stimulate, which I posted about earlier this week, will speed that merger.


The Wi-Fi Alliance this week announced a couple of other certification programs aimed at enterprise applications. Wi-Fi Certified Voice-Enterprise provides voice call quality in large enterprises that use WPA2-Enterprise security, according to the group. The other, WMM-Admission Control, is designed to upgrade bandwidth for voice and video over Wi-Fi in enterprise environments.


The point is that these programs go hand-in-glove with the goal of providing granular provisioning control on corporate Wi-Fi on a vertical-by-vertical basis.


It all is of a piece, as they say. Earlier this week, I posted on the tension between the cellular carriers and the government. One of the stories linked to reports that Federal Communications Commissioner Julius Genachowski is talking up femtocells, which now are being given the more generic moniker of "small cells." The idea is that a great way to lessen network demand is to offload as much as traffic as possible to wired broadband networks.


There is no reason that Wi-Fi can't be in the femtocell/small cell mix. Indeed, at the end of April, Mindspeed said that it is providing processors for a Wi-Fi/Long Term Evolution (LTE) femtocell that will be rolled out by SK Telesys in South Korea.

The bottom line to all this is that Wi-Fi is evolving. It is growing more sophisticated and targeted at specific verticals. Tools from The Wi-Fi Alliance are enabling it to be better controlled and managed. All of this is enabling it to move into a pivotal role as bandwidth becomes scarce and end-user demands increase. Wi-Fi, it seems, is on the ascendency.

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