What are the advantages and disadvantages of wireless technology with respect to deployment in a network?
In research conducted by Cisco, end users and IT/MIS organizations cited the convenience of no cabling, mobility/portability, and flexible anytime/anywhere access as the top three benefits of WLAN use. Home users, teleworkers, and small offices use WLANs for simplified Internet connection sharing without cable installation or the inflexibility of Ethernet. Larger companies use WLANs to extend the reach of Ethernet LANs, providing Intranet access in hard-to-wire locations like warehouses, conference rooms, and manufacturing floors, and improving productivity through non-stop access to business systems. According to Cisco, using WLANs to improve connectivity saves workers an average of 70 minutes per day. Another study by BCG found that companies adopting wireless sales force automation or customer relationship management increased productivity up to 30 percent.
Disadvantages include those associated with the introduction of any new technology: impact on existing network architecture, stability and maturity of new hardware and software, and higher per-unit cost. On this last point, consider that cheap Wi-Fi cards and APs are still more expensive than cheap 10/100 Ethernet NICs and hubs, and enterprise-grade products are more expensive than SOHO products. One disadvantage unique to wireless is increased risk of eavesdropping and unauthorized use. The Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) included in 802.11 was an attempt to bring WLANs up to the same security level as today's Ethernet LANs, but WEP did not meet this goal. New IEEE standards like 802.1X port access control and TKIP will do a better job of providing wireless link security.
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