SAN JOSE, CALIF. — As the Wi-Fi sector passes through another stage of development,
industry leaders are converging in Silicon Valley this week to discuss
the latest trends.
Fall Conference & Expo, which started Monday, is bringing together
manufacturers, sellers and buyers of Wi-Fi related technology alongside
business users looking to make strategic buying decisions. (Jupitermedia
is the parent company of internetnews.com.)
Keynote speakers this time around include James Keegan, a
vice president with IBM’s wireless e-Business division, and Computer
Associates CTO Yogesh Gupta. Companies like AirTight Networks, Azimuth
Systems, BelAir Networks, Chantry Networks, Strix Systems, LogiSense,
and Texas Instruments are expected to make announcements.
The three-day event in San Jose, Calif., also features nearly 50
sessions, including Wi-Fi Outdoors; Hotspot Central; RFID;
Securing the WLAN; and Wi-Fi Telephony & Convergence.
Many firms and consortiums
are now spending resources and R&D dollars
exploring the aspects of 802.xx technologies. Many are investigating how
other disruptive technologies like radio frequency identification (RFID)
local coffee shop or home network.
For the Wi-Fi community, this future confluence of technologies could
be very good news, as it may open up new channels of revenue both for
service providers and equipment manufacturers. In fact, this convergence
is already influencing market trends.
Many analysts suggest using phones
for data applications is one of the things pushing the growth of
wireless spending. The push could potentially lay the groundwork for
Wi-Fi acceptance, as carriers offer more data connectivity services.
Carriers are already making use of Wi-Fi, not as a product offering
per se, but rather as an enhancement to their present wireless products.
Consumers are also fueling the next stage of the Wi-Fi culture. New
figures published this month show a nine percent jump in Wi-Fi hardware
sales between the second and third quarters of 2004.
Worldwide WLAN hardware revenue reached more than $785 million. Drawing on a
strong demand for mobile data, shipment of WLAN hardware jumped 31
percent over the same time, according to London-based Infonetics
Research. By 2007, Infonetics predicts, Wi-Fi hardware sales will reach
$3.7 billion, leaping 49 percent over 2003 revenue.
A majority of companies are also recognizing WLANs as a productivity
tool for their employees and a more cost-effective alternative to wired
networks. A recent report published by JupiterResearch suggests
deployments are growing in size, but companies are not, for the most
part, willing to go completely wireless. Just 6 percent of
mid/large-size companies with current deployments have 90 percent or
more of their employees on a WLAN; 22 percent of mid/large-size
companies expect to offer such broad wireless access to employees in
Budgets for WLANs are also on the rise, according to JupiterResearch.
The percentage of companies spending more than $10,000 annually is
expected to grow from 26 percent in 2003 to 35 percent in 2004. Not only
are smaller companies spending more, but also as the industry matures,
larger entities are beginning to test and buy large-scale deployments.
But the WLAN future isn’t all rosy. The use of Session Initiated
bandwidth with no clear winner, according to Jeff Meyer of Packeteer
Networks, maker of software that manages application traffic going over
“Only 20 percent of organizations know what’s truly running on their
networks,” he said, adding that mission-critical traffic can be squashed
by such things as large files sent to multiple users or consumer
And, if the network is under attack, he said, the wireless network is
the first to go down.
Editor’s note: internetnews.com senior editor Susan Kuchinskas
contributed to this report.