Is wireless LAN gear right for you?

Deciding if wireless local-area network (WLAN) technology is right for your agency will depend primarily on your potential wireless applications and the characteristics of your user base, according to industry analysts.

"The majority of enterprise WLAN deployments are where you typically have users who are locally mobile or coming in and out of a particular facility and need connectivity for a particular application," said Abner Germanow, program manager for IDC's enterprise networking research group.

Enabling employees to send and receive e-mail messages and swap files wirelessly during a meeting in a conference room could boost their productivity, he said. In addition, if you have a small or temporary office where you might organize a few employees for a temporary project, it might be less expensive to deploy a wireless network than a wired one, Germanow added.

In contrast, agencies that have mostly stationary employees probably can function best with wired LAN, he said. "Or, if they are ultra-security-paranoid and they don't have adequate security skills on their staff," he said, "it is probably worth waiting a little bit unless the business case for the technology is so strong that it justifies bringing in an outside consulting company to handle security."

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