Earlier this month, Jake Necessary’s article, “Considering the jump to wireless networking? Here’s an overview,” explained the basics of wireless LAN technology and identified several benefits of its use. In response to this information, TechRepublic members responded in force, and I’d like to share their comments. Unfortunately, due to the volume of feedback, it’s not possible to publish every response. However, I believe I have presented the best balance of all the submissions.
In Response offers a weekly roundup of feedback from TechRepublic members intended to help inform you and your peers about critical issues in the world of IT. This week, TechRepublic members share their opinions on wireless networking technology.
TechRepublic members respond
it@melbourne: Wireless LANs and interference
“As everyone with even a modicum of electronic device experience will know, interference is a perennial concern. Anybody who has held a little transistor radio at some bizarre angle trying to get even the tiniest signal knows what radio waves are like—difficult beasts. How does the wireless computing fraternity plan to overcome this issue? I can just see the modern office, full of mobile (cell) phones, wireless LANs, radio, television, and so on. If they all do manage to interoperate, we’ll be walking around with permanent migraines from having our brain waves fried by so much electromagnetic activity. I’m all for technology and I’d love to adopt wireless networking, but has anyone stopped to look at the implications?”

Humzah K.: The future is wireless
“Other than the 11 Mbit bandwidth limitation of IEEE802.11, it is a step in the right direction. I think LAN infrastructure will become wireless very quickly to support open office concepts and telecommuting.”

Peter S.: “Electro-Smog” as potential HR issue
“Like it or not, the issue raised by the reader in Australia is a potential time bomb. ‘Electro-Smog’ from cell phones is a much bigger and rather emotional issue in Europe than it appears to be in the U.S. Wait until disgruntled worker’s comp hunters get the issue targeted (rightly or wrongly). Companies might end up in rather uncomfortable positions to defend their wireless LAN. Some good data about this real or perceived hazard might be valuable before a company makes significant investments into wireless technology.”

Charles G.: Interference is less of a concern
“I’ve watched wireless technology develop over the last year. It appears that most are using spread spectrum technology, which provides a high level of resistance to interference. If one is on the edge of a cell boundary, one might experience some problems, but avoiding this is part of system design. One overlaps the coverage areas, taking into account building penetration, distance, and so on. Some of the systems are becoming so inexpensive (targeted to the home market) that I may just have to try one.”

Jason D.: I couldn’t agree more!
“I work for a large pharmaceutical company, and we currently are using both wired and wireless networks. There are more limitations to wireless solutions at this stage in the game than just bandwidth. For instance: We use a wireless network using Cisco Aeronet equipment—basically we have a few WIN CE handhelds with Wireless PCMCIA cards running WINNT TS to a LIMS. This way, lab people do not have to record information from an instrument and then walk to a PC and enter it. They can do it from their terminal. But the Cisco Aeronet series switches only allow four connections per port on a hub or switch. (Hehe, they get you with that. You still need a wired network in the backend.) [With] what we use it for, and [for] some open office environments [it] should work great.”

Adnan B.: Technology is not always a panacea
“While wireless technologies will become widespread, I think it won’t replace wired technologies. Both will coexist with a balance reached between the usage of both. Let me give an example, although it isn’t the best. Remember what happened to those digital speedometers in autos? They appeared for one or two model years in high-end vehicles. But now, current high-end models have both, the analog version being the more prominent! In my mind, ‘Wireless versus Wired Products’ have the same product dynamics. There are several articles that tout the benefits of newer wireless technologies. But none really specifies the real drawbacks. I agree with the TechRepublic reader from Australia, that too many high frequency waves (several hundred MHz and up, including the digital cell phone frequencies) are harmful to living tissue.

“As many tech buffs tend not to remember from their Modern Physics classes, the higher the frequency, the higher the energy in the electromagnetic ray, keeping other factors such as amplitude and time exposure the same. Thus, they are/can be more harmful to living tissue than similar rays at lower frequencies.

“And does anyone remember what is the frequency range of microwaves? Am I cooking my brain cells with the cell phone? So, yeah, I carry a cell phone (mostly turned off) that can come in handy in an emergency or for very necessary but succinct communication. But it begs judicious use. Same with other wireless technologies. So it’s time to pause and ponder.”
Is your organization currently using or considering the use of wireless networking technology? Why or why not? E-mail me your story and let us know or click here to join this discussion.