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Multi is the New Black

5:30 PM -- Given the tremendous amount of throughput available in properly-design enterprise-class and public-access wireless LANs, it makes sense to think about leveraging as many applications as possible onto a given infrastructure. The key variables in so doing, of course, are the number of users, their locations, the amount of data they want to send, whether time-boundedness is an element in any given communication, and transmit duty cycles. If we over-provision wireless networks, a technique I recommend via dense deployments in the enterprise case, or dense deployments of multiple radios in the metro-scale case, then we should have plenty of bandwidth available to make the WLAN a primary vehicle, and not just one used when convenient.

This is a theme that I first heard from Colubris Networks Inc. , whom I think originated the term “MultiService WLAN.” But now I notice that BelAir Networks Inc. , a vendor of metro-scale WLAN meshes, is using the phrase “multi-service mesh architecture” to describe their offering, and Firetide Inc. , a competitor or Belair’s, is using the exact same phrase very prominently. Now, I think the term is generic enough so there’s no need for the lawyers to get involved here, but I find it interesting that three major suppliers are all using the same marketing theme.

And all are on the right track: We’re going to be demanding that our enterprise and metro-scale WLANs do it all, with multiple classes of service supporting essentially every application. Such would have been unthinkable back in the .11b days, but advances in radio technology and network architecture (and network management systems) have changed all that. Look for more multi in the future, a clear indication the WLANs have hit the big time in a big way.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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