Fact Sheet

By Gary Bolles  |  Posted 06-13-2002 Print Email

Fact Sheet

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The use of wireless lans in the 802.11 frequency range is growing rapidly—sometimes not by choice. That means companies should stay in front of the technology, which offers flexibility and benefits far beyond the simple ability to move computers around the office. Wireless can also have a significant positive effect on corporate culture.


  • Flexibly manage employees' office moves and changes.
  • More easily support untethered workers—in and out of the office.
  • Creatively rethink warehouse- and retail-based business processes.
  • Boost productivity through flexible, always-on connections.
  • Support a culture that gets information and solves problems in real time.


  • High costs of installing networking cable disappear.
  • Workers can use their computers when and where they need to, boosting productivity.
  • Visiting workers can easily connect to the network.
  • Installation and modification of workgroup spaces are vastly simplified.
  • 802.11a offers high-bandwidth ser-vices without hardware upgrades.

  • Management tools are nascent, so trouble-shooting networks can be tough.
  • Dead zones and conflicts with other wireless devices can disrupt and kill connections.
  • Standards are changing rapidly, so existing products can soon become obsolete.
  • Security remains problematic (see next month's CIO Insight).

    • 802.11b: Most common, known as Wi-Fi, and the cheapest. Rated at 11 megabits per second; common throughput is 5.5 megabits per second.
    • 802.11a: Next-generation specification, products recently introduced but prices dropping rapidly. Rated at 54 megabits per second; 25 mbps likely.
    • 802.11g: Improves on reliability of 802.11a at speeds intended to be greater than 802.11b.


    Platform Vendors

    • Cisco Systems, Inc.: The Aironet 340 series is at the high end, offering extensive management features.
    • Linksys Group, Inc.: This company offers some of the least expensive products, but without the robust security extensions of competitors.
    • 3Com Corp.: Relatively new to Wi-Fi, 3Com's WLAN Launcher for its PC cards seeks out available access points.


    • Sniffer Technologies' Sniffer Wireless: The protocol analyzer for wireless LANs allows network managers to watch wireless traffic.
    • Ethereal: Free protocol analyzer for Windows and Unix.
    • AirTraf: Open source 802.11b protocol analyzer.


    Web site providing broad range of resources, including a conference.

    www.wireless ethernet.org
    Sponsored by the Wire-less Ethernet Compati-bility Alliance, includes listings of certified 802.11 products.

    www.oreillynet.com/ topics/wireless/802.11
    O'Reilly Network's popular wireless LAN resource page for the more technically inclined.

    The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. working group site on wireless LANs, for the very technical.

    www.extremetech.com/ article/0,3396,s=1034&a= 22938,00.asp
    ExtremeTech's analysis of fast Wi-Fi products.

    www.apple.com/ airport/faq
    Apple's frequently asked questions about the most recent version of its AirPort wireless access point.


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