The Next Decade for WLANs

The Next Decade for WLANs

By CWNP On 01/05/2010 - 6 Comments

Happy New Year from CWNP! It seems fitting that, before moving forward into the next decade, we take a little look back at the past ten years. CWNP came to being at the beginning of the decade; we expanded and contracted throughout the decade and became recognized as a vendor-neutral industry authority. We couldn’t be more excited about some new products coming to market in 2010! We witnessed the emergence of Wi-Fi as a primary and pervasive network access method, growing from its infancy in the early 21st century to a mature technology. Just think, 10 years ago, 802.11b—and 11 Mbps—was king (802.11a was mostly ignored). 802.11n ushers us into a new term where 600 Mbps will soon be the norm.

I thought about making a list of the top ten events for Wi-Fi in the past decade, but in fairness to everyone else, I wasn’t around for most of it. Plus, that sounds a little too Lettermanesque and unnecessarily adds pressure for humor. Suffice it to say that 802.11n lands the number one spot, somewhere ahead of 802.11i, WLAN controllers (they ruled the decade), and James Cameron’s new 3D movie, Avatar. Sorry, that’s my lack of inhibition coming out; the movie was incredible… both times! Go watch it!

Industry analyst and author Joanie Wexler kicked us off in 2010 with a concise paper and survey addressing the state of the WLAN market, including some interesting data regarding 802.11n deployment patterns. I read a similar paper written by Grant Moerschel (Why 802.11n Will Revolutionize Connectivity) back in late 2009—links at the end of the article. Both of these papers reminded me that actual data trumps conjecture/theory about acceptance of new technologies.

As a natural byproduct of capitalism and our elevation of money, our brains are perennially massaged with marketing and messaging indicating that the latest products are the greatest products. Consumers would usually agree, but the data presented in the two aforementioned articles present an industry that is cautiously, though steadily, moving forward. Perhaps I read too many papers indicating that 802.11n will be a panacea for the world’s WLAN woes, which leads me to believe that everyone is scrambling to put it into place. Real data keeps me grounded a bit. :)

What I love about these articles is that we all get a chance to capitalize on them by spinning the results in our general direction. For example, I’d be happy to point out that almost half of respondents—43%; Wexler’s article—said they “don’t know” what 802.11n features they need. In other words, they need some training. Walk this way, friends. I’ve also seen a few tweets from infrastructure vendors drawing attention to data that bodes well for their massaging. What really surprised me is that 32% of the respondents—again, Wexler’s article—said they are currently using or intend to use mesh. Last I checked, 802.11s was still in draft 3.0, so standardized mesh still has a few iterations before showing up in the market. Even when it does, I expect to see a heavy dose of proprietary influence in vendor solutions. Anyways, almost a third want mesh… interesting.

So that’s my first set of random thoughts for 2010. Expect more to come on 802.11s mesh soon as well as some thoughts on DFS, 802.11n chipsets, product reviews, and eventually a peek behind the curtain of what CWNP has coming down the pipe in 2010. Again, we hope everyone had fantastic holidays and we look forward to great things in the next ten years!

Grant Moerschel’s InformationWeek Analytics Article:

http://analytics.informationweek.com/abstract/18/1733/Mobile-Wireless/research-why-802-11n-will-revolutionize-connectivity.html


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