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computing comes to Indian corporates
AMCPL, the exclusive research partner for the Gartner
Group in India, says that over the last seven years WLANs
have gained popularity in a number of vertical markets, including
healthcare, retail, manufacturing, warehousing and academic
institutions. AMCPL predicts that the WLAN market in India
is expected to be worth $0.1 million in 2001 and is expected
to grow to $2.8 million by 2007.
Going by these statistics, one would think that the Indian
Wireless market has some promising days ahead. But in reality,
there are still some creases that need to be ironed out before
we begin to see growth.
Previously, companies shied away from wireless technology,
or chose to wait and watch, because of the lack of widely
adopted standards. Now that the IEEE 802.11b (11Mbps) standard
is popular, many vendors are offering products based on this
standard here. But 802.11 is itself an evolving standard and
already there are other variations like 802.11a (54 Mbps),
802.11g (20+ Mbps) etc. Already vendors like Enterasys are
offering WLANs that combine both 802.11b and 802.11a standards.
Now that the standards problem has been sorted out it seems
that the main impediment is getting speedy approvals from
regulatory bodies like WPC (Wireless Planning & Coordination
wing) and SACFA (Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency
main issue now is getting approvals from the WPC for the ISM
band (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz). The ISM band is used for wireless
applications worldwide," says H.V. Kedlaya, MD, Convergent
Opines Cisco's Naresh Wadhwa, "While regulatory bodies
are certainly required, the timeframe for getting approvals
should be reduced."
The other key issue of concern is security. Since data is
transmitted over airwaves, anyone who knew the frequencies
used for transmission could use a receiver to eavesdrop. But
now complex encryption standards such as WEP (Wired Equivalent
Privacy) provide encryption for wireless networks.
Then there are psychological reasons that hold back widespread
adoption of WLANs in enterprises. "There is still that
first level of fear in the mind of the Indian CIO. But once
he deploys it in one area and realizes how easy it is to do
so, he does not hesitate to deploy it further across the enterprise,"
This level of fear can be removed by creating more technology
awareness. This can be done by staging live technology demonstrations
in actual business environments.
So when is the wireless market likely to boom here?
move towards wireless deployment has started but we need more
applications specific to the industries that use this technology,"
says an industry analyst. "Even if the applications exist,
someone has to take the first step for integration. Service
providers also need to gear up for wireless services and that
would take another six to nine months."
In the coming months we will see more SIs focusing on wireless
technology and helping enterprises go the wireless way. Vendors
will help create more awareness by educating their reseller
partners and potential customers. Developers will see an opportunity
in the wireless space and create more applications specific
to certain industries. And then more enterprises will set
But there's no need to wait till then, for wireless solutions
are already available in the country (see table).
a WLAN Solution for your enterprise
If you are seriously thinking about deploying a WLAN solution
in your enterprise, then you need to consider a couple of
issues. There are vendors who manufacture WLAN products and
Systems Integrators who will design your WLAN and give
you a ready-to-use wireless solution (depending on your requirements).
Some (like Cisco) will even demonstrate a WLAN solution in
an actual business environment.
There is a new breed of Systems Integrators and Consultants
who specialize in WLAN solutions. Most will also assist you
in getting approvals from wireless regulatory bodies like
WPC (Wireless Planning & Coordination wing) and SACFA
(Standing Advisory Committee on Radio Frequency Allocations).
Building blocks (Products)
Wireless LAN products are usually sold as an end-to-end
solution. Single units are later sold as one extends the WLAN.
For example, one may go in for a Wireless solution comprising
Access Points, Wireless LAN cards and a Bridge and later order
more Access Point units. Apart from the WLAN hardware it goes
without saying that all the relevant device driver software
should be included in the solution. A typical WLAN comprises
Access Point: It is a radio-based receiver/transmitter
(transceiver) that connects to the wired network from a
fixed location using standard cabling. The transceiver communicates
wirelessly with the Wireless LAN card in the desktop or
notebook PC. A single access point can support a small group
Wireless LAN cards: End-users access the WLAN through
WLAN adapters (wireless network interface cards). For wireless
connectivity, one needs to fit either a PCMCIA wireless
card in a notebook PC or a PCI wireless LAN adapter in a
Bridge: This unit connects two LANs wirelessly. It
provides a point-to-point wireless connection and is used
for connecting two LANs that may be in two different buildings
or on two separate floors within the same building.
IEEE 802.11 - In the early days of wireless technology,
there were several proprietary communications technologies
(devised by vendors), and no common standards. Wireless
LANS were slow to take off because of the lack of standardization.
However, we now have universal standards approved by bodies
like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
(IEEE). There are various IEEE 802.11 standards (with specific
data transmission speeds, frequencies, and other parameters).
(Also see www.ieee.org)
Wi-Fi - The standard for Wireless Fidelity devised by the
Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA). WECA's
mission is to certify interoperability of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11)
products and to promote Wi-Fi as the global wireless LAN
standard across all market segments. For more information
on WiFi and WiFi certified products see www.wirelessethernet.org.
WEP - Wired Equivalent Privacy is a security standard that
provides encryption for wireless
networks. WEP was part of the original IEEE 802.11 standard.
DSSS - Most WLANs use radio-based spread spectrum technology.
A Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum transmission generates
a redundant bit pattern (called a chip or chipping code)
for each bit transmitted. So if one or more bits in the
chip are lost in the transmission, the radio can still recover
the original data from the redundant bits without the need
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