Planning for wireless deployments differs from wired network planning in many ways. Unlike wired networks, the primary question isn’t bandwidth or reliability, but availability. Wireless networking enables mobility — and mobile connectivity — in ways never before seen in the world of computers. Just as movie theaters and television coexist despite their similarities, wired and wireless networks will coexist. Each has it’s unique benefits and drawbacks. Each is desirable for different purposes.
Wired networks will always be preferred for high bandwidth. The technology there will always be ten or 100 times faster than wireless (or faster), and far more reliable. Wireless networks will continue to be chosen for the mobility they provide.
Most amazing is how wireless portable computing is changing the way we work and the applications we use. It’s actually creating a new technology segment, even while it changes others.
Wireless applications are low-bandwidth. Not only because wireless doesn’t support wired’s high speed, but also because the things people demand from mobile applications are relatively low bandwidth. Browsing in a Palm doesn’t hog bandwidth, neither does transaction processing for some of the business applications I’ve seen. Even VoIP only consumes about 64 to 128Kbps. Bits per second! You can run 40 or 50 simultaneous VoIP sessions on old 802.11B, and over 100 on 802.11G. Even the streaming video we’ve seen from 3G cell phones only consumes about 128Kbps.
So ask me what I want from wireless: availability or bandwidth. I’ll choose availability (and compatibility) ever day.