Wireless technology spending 'overtakes wired investment'

Large businesses spend more on wireless than wired infrastructure, according to new research.

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Large businesses spend more on wireless than wired infrastructure, according to new research.

The report, called 'Cutting the ties that bind', found that spending was higher in 54 percent of large enterprises. Some 400 IT directors at large companies in the UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain and Nordics were interviewed for the research, which was conducted by Vanson Bourne.

Demand for wireless was being driven by a number of factors, the report stated. Some 57 percent of respondents cited the strategic need for employee mobility; 43 percent said it was demand for wireless coverage from common areas; 36 percent said it was upgrading/replacing part of existing wired LAN; 35 percent cited a connectivity need in remote areas; and 21 percent said guest access/hotels.

Looking forward, the survey found that over two thirds of IT directors plan to make their LAN completely wireless by 2010.

Nearly seven in 10 said they would go totally wireless in two years time, while 31 percent said they would stick with their wired infrastructure.

Angelo Lamme, Wireless director at Motorola’s enterprise mobility division, which commissioned the research, said "one of the reasons" spending on wireless was higher was because enterprises already have their wired infrastructure in place and see no reason to upgrade.

But he added that the other was “the [lower] cost of a wireless network” compared to wired infrastructure. "The cost of installing a new wireless network is between one fifth to one tenth the cost of installing a wired network," Lamme told Computerworld UK’s sister title, Techworld. "Wireless networks are a valuable alternative in these tough economic times."

"We are at a tipping point at the moment, where wireless is really now a viable alternative because of 802.11n and alternative architectures," Lamme added. "You are not hearing that from network vendors, and you can imagine why. Their economic cash cow is disappearing."

Security remains the top wireless concern for enterprise CIOs and CTOs, alongside performance and reliability, according to the research. When asked for the issues holding European companies back from making their LAN completely wireless, 63 percent admitted they were concerned about security; 41 percent owned up to performance worries; 38 percent reliability, 35 percent speed; 31 percent cost; and just 16 percent scalability.

"Security is a concern that can be addressed, it is just a matter of being well educated about it," Lamme said, pointing to authentication and encryption. "It surprised me that security was top of the list, as the technology exists to secure wireless networks."

"Enterprises need to monitor their airspace," said Lamme. "They need to know what is going on around their network, and make sure network is compliant with their security policies."

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