Multi-pronged Benefits of Wi-Fi Provide Forward Momentum for the Market
Wi-Fi is one of the most versatile wireless technologies in existence today. When the technology was introduced into the market, it was primarily used for facilitating wireless Internet connectivity. Due to the pioneering efforts of the 802.11 standards body, the Wi-Fi Alliance, and companies developing Wi-Fi solutions, the technology is gradually being deployed for facilitating applications such as location tracking, wireless video delivery, wireless voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), mobile Internet, and embedded networking.
With the ratification of the latest Wi-Fi standard, namely 802.11n, in September 2009, the market for Wi-Fi devices is expected to transition from the conventional 802.11b/g-based devices to high-speed 802.11n-based devices. 802.11n standard promises to facilitate enhanced data rates, greater reliability and predictable coverage when compared to legacy Wi-Fi standards.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that 802.11n Wi-Fi could revolutionize the realm of short-range wireless communications.
"Recent trends indicate that users are increasingly using portable devices within homes, offices, and other indoor spaces; wireless connectivity is vital if the users need to reap maximum benefits from the mobile devices," notes Technical Insights Research Analyst Gaurav Sundararaman. "Given the inadequacy of the traditional networks in addressing the challenge of high-speed connectivity, service providers are evaluating the prospects of Wi-Fi."
The 802.11n standard is attracting enormous attention in the wireless space as it offers multidimensional benefits. 802.11n promises faster speed and greater reliability, and has already witnessed significant deployments across the globe. The standard was recently ratified, and is expected to form the basis of the new era of short-range wireless networking, thereby disrupting the existing wireless LAN standards such as a, b, and g.
Despite the buzz surrounding 802.11n, customers are wary about adopting it due to its inability to function at full throughput using power from standard 802.3af power-over-Ethernet (PoE).
"Many 802.11n access points that are available in the market today do not conform to existing PoE standards," says Technical Insights Research Analyst Achyuthanandan S. "Organizations interested in leveraging the benefits of 802.11n need to upgrade their PoE infrastructure to support 802,11n access points."
This issue is expected to be addressed soon, as manufacturers have started developing access points that can be powered by standard 802.3af PoE.
Wi-Fi is notorious for its power levels, and Wi-Fi radios are often responsible for the short battery life span in laptops and smartphones.
"Mobile voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and location-based applications require Wi-Fi radios to be always switched on, resulting in heavy battery usage," observes Achyuthanandan. "Consequently, power issues have become a focal point of interest and the 802.11 standards body is working toward developing a standard aimed at improving the power efficiency of Wi-Fi."
As users absorb Wi-Fi, the IEEE 802.11 standards body is also taking serious interest in pushing the technology to its very limits to improve characteristics such as power efficiency, data rates, connectivity, and other features. A number of new 802.11 standards/amendments are under consideration and 802.11 task groups have started working toward developing specifications for each standard.