I’m glad that’s the case. Years ago, I helped start a training organization for employees of a software firm. We didn’t have our own classroom, so I’d have to set up a boardroom (or a hotel conference room) with all the requisite hardware, including power cables, network cables and a router.Setup involved more cables than I care to remember. If we had to move, we’d pack up the piles of cables that turned the boardroom table a tangled black and blue, ask learners to tote their notebooks and move to whatever spot we scrounged. Then we’d set everything up again.
Today, the options look much better. Wireless network cards, already standard features in most notebooks bought by business, would have been a boon to me in my full-time training days. Bribes, both anonymous and clearly from me, would have adorned the desks of IT staff until and after I could get rid of my cable collection.
Are bribes still necessary? If so, maybe security fears are still a factor. Horror stories about wireless network security breaches make their way to IT administrators through publications, chatter and networks — wired or not. That’s enough to keep some businesses off the wireless wave.
Like most fears, though, this one isn’t entirely rational. Rampant demand for wireless applications drives developments like WiMAX and high-peed downlink packet access (HSDPA), both of which have already been implemented. Credible vendors like Nortel and Cisco continue to expand their wireless offerings. In North America, Wi-Fi and VoIP have already made significant inroads both in homes and offices. As use of these technologies spreads, security tools get better.
There are other reasons for cutting wires. Consider that many workers already have wireless home networking, and you must admit that employee attitude isn’t a problem. Will your company expand its premises? Think about the reduced need for wiring. Do your people frequently hop from meeting room to meeting room to off-site meetings, accessing network apps all the while? They would gladly make their trips with one less thing to hook up.
There are also risks to avoiding wireless, because potential employees will be used to the ease of use it provides. In a few years, WiMAX might bring the “free Internet” ambitions of certain municipalities within reach, and HSDPA may make mobile handsets ever more capable work and entertainment nodes. Will your firm offer the ease of networking that your current and prospective employees can find just about anywhere else they go? Risk has always been part of networking. Over time, IT departments have learned how to manage such risk, and they’ll do the same with emerging wireless technologies. They need to. After all, who wants to risk being seen as less technically sophisticated than the corner coffee shop?

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