Wireless networking is slowly gaining acceptance as a practical alternative to traditional wired networks. The advantages of going wireless include greater user mobility, greater office space flexibility, and the ability to move your network infrastructure if your organization relocates. Wired networks, however, currently have an advantage over wireless in data transmission speed, lack of transmission interference, and proven performance. Despite these shortcomings, a recent informal TechRepublic survey of our members found that many organizations are already using wireless technology or are seriously considering going wireless in the near future.
A little background information
Before jumping right into our wireless networking questions, we gathered some background data from our respondents. While a majority (61.6 percent) came from organizations with less than 500 employees, a significant number (20.5 percent) reported working for large organizations with more than 2,000 employees.
When it came to number of office locations, respondents reported a range of working environments, with two to four locations (28.2 percent) leading the pack.
|Number of Office Locations|
Wireless networking experiences
While it came as no surprise that the wireless users were not in the majority, it was unexpected that slightly more than a third of respondents (34.8 percent) were using wireless networks.
|Prevalence of Wireless Use|
When asked what type(s) of wireless networks they use, the respondents listed a wide range of technology.
|Wireless Technology Currently in Use|
Respondents reported realizing several benefits from using wireless technology. Among the most prevalent were greater user mobility (22.8 percent) and greater user productivity (14 percent). Other benefits the respondents singled out were lower network installation time (12.6 percent) and lower network installation cost (11.6 percent).
|Benefits of Using Wireless Technology|
We also asked TechRepublic members what types of problems they were experiencing with their wireless networks. While 21.8 percent of respondents had not experienced any problems at all, 21.3 percent did report problems with slower-than-expected data transmission speeds. Likewise, 21.3 percent also reported more signal interference than expected.
|Problems Experienced with Wireless Networking Technology|
If members were not currently using wireless technology, we wanted to know why. Among the top responses were that respondents thought wireless technology was too expensive to install (17.3 percent), was too experimental (18.1 percent), or had other unspecified reasons for not going wireless (21.6 percent).
|Reasons For Not Using Wireless Technology|
Who is considering wireless and why?
Another particularly interesting statistic was that more than half of the respondents (55.6 percent) reported that their organization was seriously considering the implementation of new wireless technology.
|Considering New Wireless Implementation|
When asked exactly what type of wireless technology they were seriously considering, a majority of respondents reported either Bluetooth (14.2 percent) or another unspecified wireless solution (37.6 percent).
|Type of New Wireless Technology Under Consideration|
When asked about the expected benefits from using wireless networking, the top response (22.4 percent) was increased user mobility.
|Expected Benefits from Using Wireless Technology|
As for those organizations that were not seriously considering a new wireless implementation, the reasons given included that wireless was too expensive to install (17.4 percent) or too experimental to rely on (14.6 percent).
|Reasons for Not Considering a New Wireless Implementation|
Future looks bright for wireless
Despite the current hesitance associated with wireless technology, an overwhelming majority of respondents (84.6 percent) believed their organizations would be considering a wireless network implementation in the future.
|Future Consideration of Wireless Networking Technology|
When asked when their organization would be seriously considering a wireless implementation, the clear majority of respondents (84.1 percent) reported within the next one to five years, with 39 percent reporting within the next year.
|Future Wireless Consideration|
Finally, responses were mixed on the most important factors when considering a wireless network solution. While no one factor stood out as overwhelmingly more important than any other, respondents are concerned about compatibility with existing network infrastructure, stability, security, and data transmission speed.
|Important Factors When Considering a Wireless Networking Implementation|
The big picture
Overall, the response to the survey shows that while consumers are still cautious about wireless networking, support and acceptance for this emerging technology is growing. As wireless products improve their data transmission speed, decrease signal interference, increase their reliability, and prove that they can be secure, more and more organizations will want to exploit the benefits of wireless technology.
Do you have a wireless networking story to tell? Is your organization already using wireless technology? What future do you see for the wireless Ethernet? We want to know. Post a comment below or send us a note.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.