Where Next for WLAN?

These have been busy days in the enterprise wireless LAN market. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has completed its acquisition of Airespace Inc.. And Aruba Wireless Networks and Trapeze Networks Inc. have picked up OEM deals with, respectively, Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). (See Trapeze Swings With Nortel, Aruba Allies With Alcatel , and Cisco to Acquire Airespace.)

So what's next?

It looks as if voice-over-WLAN (VOWLAN) will become the key issue for many vendors this year. Both Alcatel and Nortel cited voice applications as key to the new partnership deals, while rival startup Meru Networks Inc. is pushing Japan as a proving ground for such applications (see Meru Talks Up Japan).

There has been some speculation that Meru is going after a partnership in that area with NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701), which has been working with Airespace for a while (see Airespace Takes Off).

"Meru is very focused on the VOIP mobility market, and that's where we continue to focus all partnering efforts," says Ben Gibson, Meru's new head of corporate marketing. "We have recently captured three of the top four VOIP vendors in Japan, and you can expect to hear more from Meru on the VOIP partnering front over the next few months."

Naturally, the company isn't yet naming names.

Startup Colubris Networks Inc. is working on its next generation system, pushing its VOIP capabilities, and has just recieved a hefty new influx of VC money (see Colubris Plots Bigger Box, Colubris Claims VOIP Record and Colubris Cashes Up).

There are even some new startups waiting in the wings.

Meanwhile, back at Cisco, vice president of engineering Dave Leonard and former Airespace CEO Brett Galloway are teaming up to lead the Wireless Networking Business Unit. The firm intends to talk more about its plans for WiFi over the next few weeks (see Cisco's WiFi Flight Plan and Cisco's Airespace Program). Details about its new product portfolio can be found here.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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