In the second part of our "wired or wireless for the enterprise?" discussion, Steve Broadhead, director of Broadband Testing Labs, speaks to three wireless experts about where the technology is heading.
Is the convergence of Wi-Fi/3G inevitable, and what are the benefits?
Andy Hood, managing director at network provider Sarian Systems, says, "Advances in mobile technology and the increasing presence of local Wi-Fi hotspots provide the ability to deliver high-quality services through an integrated model that has obvious benefits to the end-user. Local hotspots and the integration of global positioning systems into mobile devices allow location-specific content and services to be deployed automatically using the most cost-effective medium available. At its simplest level, voice over IP applications are relevant to both the consumer and enterprise user for making low-cost national or international calls via services such as Skype. For the business user, video conferencing and remote working become that much easier, and for the consumer, local guides, video content and targeted services can be delivered cost-effectively."
Is wireless technology robust enough for business use?
John Earley, business development director at wireless network provider Manchester Metronet, says, "Four or five years ago, IT managers were reticent about wireless communications technology. In Manchester, we have addressed this apprehension with the delivery of high-quality, mission-critical wireless CCTV networks. In addition, we begun recruiting corporate data customers 12 months ago. We now have 70 customers, and word is spreading about the business justification for wireless services, which includes cost savings, rapid installation and a service level uptime that is better than that normally experienced by users of legacy leased line communications.
"The key to our success has been avoiding Wi-Fi/Wimax-type wireless services, which are not perceived as industrial-strength services for mission-critical services. Instead, we have been focusing on non-contended fully symmetrical circuits that are truly equivalent to leased lines."
Where does Wimax fit in?
Commercial deployments of Wimax networks by operators have overtaken deployments of trial-only networks, according to research firm Maravedis. In the third quarter of 2007, 58% of Wimax networks worldwide were being deployed for commercial use, and 18% were in the trial stage. Sixteen per cent of network operators own Wimax spectrum but are doing nothing with it, and 8% of operators are planning a Wimax launch.
Adlane Fellah, chief executive of Maravedis research, says, "We expect the introduction of major network deployments for mobile Wimax, combined with lower equipment pricing, to accelerate subscriber growth in 2008 and contribute to a 70% to 80% yearly increase in commercial deployment.
"Many operators have slowed down their network expansion plans to synchronise their commercial deployment with the upcoming Wimax 802.16e equipment certification. Mobile Wimax will enable them to offer more flexibility and value-added service."