Wireless x-perience

Vishwajith Prasad, Network Consultant, Cisco India & SAARC

Advancements in wireless have started taking a strong hold, but it won't just be a spate of new technologies or products that impact the airwaves. Sure, technology will still be a major part of wireless, building steam again next year as the world rolls into a ubiquitous one, but what can be achieved will only be limited by our own creativity.

Wireless access will eventually be everywhere--integrating your personal communication and computing devices, connecting your home and corporate networks, providing perpetual access. Mobility has already become the need of the hour. Routinely, you will be connected to the Internet while riding your car scraping through traffic jams, walking down the college campus chatting with friends thousands of miles apart, on a seamless wireless network; something that we are getting closer to, by the day!

Wireless local area networks now offer high-speed Internet access at numerous locations in both public and private environments. The increase in the sales of laptops and the need for wireless go hand-in-hand. With the advancement and development in Wireless, customers are not only looking for hot devices and technologies like 802.11n, but they will also look for guidance on how to weigh the ROI of a wireless deployment.

So what is it that makes 802.11n so unique? Well, 802.11n is the latest wireless LAN standard, that will gain more traction come next year. Currently, it's still in draft form and won't be ratified until probably 2009, but vendors like Cisco, Intel and others have begun shipping 11n-enabled products. 11n separates itself from its a/b/g counterparts by offering faster throughput -- between 100 and 200 Mbps, and in some configurations up to 600 Mbps -- and broader range. Wireless Solutions based on 802.11n standard employ several techniques to improve the throughput, reliability and predictability of Wireless LAN’s. The three primary innovations being

1) Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology
2) Packet Aggregation
3) Channel bonding (40Mhz Channels)

Without getting into the technical details, it would suffice to say that together, these techniques allow 802.11n solutions to achieve a superior performance increase over the current 802.11 a/b/g networks. And surely, 802.11n is going to change Wi-Fi as the world knows it.

We have also been seeing a massive influx of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile handsets. Already available by some manufacturers like Nokia and Samsung, Wi-Fi-enabled and dual-mode devices will become more mainstream, further pushing this convergence to the forefront. With workers becoming more mobile and demanding constant access to their business applications, Apple even announced the integration of Cisco IPSec VPN in their iPhone 2.0 software release. And this would be essentially the tying together of Unified Communications and Unified Wireless networks for one seamless way to access information from anywhere at any time.

For all this to actually transpire into reality, the backbone has to be an intelligent architecture providing not only redundancy, but also scalability with ease of management and one that delivers the expectations by leveraging network as the platform. And if the architecture embraced a network security design following a philosophy of “need to protect” based on control-points model that would be the perfect solution one could ask for.

Imagine a Wireless world….with fast and seamless access for students downloading huge files in the corner of a cafeteria; a cost-effective access for staff and guests for the hospitality industry thus improving customer loyalty; wirelessly extending communications to hard-to-reach locations such as coast guard vessels to provide real-time interaction between public safety; wireless links between warehouse and transportation company for tracking product delivery; Tracking critical assets that reduce time-to recovery; delivering reliable information to doctors and nurses and more importantly saving lives by reducing response times in emergencies!

The wireless infrastructure and the applications are up for grabs. The innovation and adoption of this technology has turned into a socio-tech revolution, something that was not imaginable a few years ago.


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