Cutting the Cat. 5 Cord

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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The advent of 802.11n will give rise to the fully wireless infrastructure, opening new and exciting opportunities for moving data.

Is it time to say goodbye to good old Cat. 5 cables and RJ45 connectors?

According to the OnForce "State of the Market" report, wire and cable service orders have the second highest hourly rate in the industry—$282 per hour, which is roughly 36 percent above the average hourly work order rate.

Solution providers are wholesaling cabling across drop ceilings and under raised floors for $591 per hour, which is a whopping 89 percent above the average work order rate. Cabling through walls is going for the net price of $431 per hour—75 percent above the national average.

If you figure that even wiring a small office with 10 seats will mean Category 5 drops to every office, desk and conference room, the total cost will be several thousand dollars at these rates.

Even conventional WAPs (wireless access points) require hard-wiring to switches and routers, so 802.11a/b/g has been little help in untangling the Cat. 5 mess.

Wireless has been virtually useless until now. The advent of 802.11n will open up much wider wireless data pipes, allowing gigabyte volume throughput on the data spectrum. Motorola is betting its networking strategy on this new standard and wireless mesh networking.
Motorola's new wireless enterprise line is leading the advance of a new wave of networking. While the wireless enterprise is not a new concept, the idea of replacing all those hard-wired access points and retaining access to high-availability fat pipes is relatively new.

Motorola figures that as applications hog increasing amounts of bandwidth, all businesses will be forced to upgrade their data networks. The natural inclination today is to upgrade both wired and wireless infrastructures. With the costs of deploying a wired infrastructure so high, Motorola is betting businesses will jump at the opportunity to replace all their copper and fiber-optic cable with comparably low-cost 802.11n mesh wireless networks.

"This will save, since it's one-fifth to one-10th the cost of running cable," says Kevin Goulet, director of product management at Motorola's enterprise LAN market division.

Motorola is also launching a new channel devoted specifically to enterprise wireless networking, although the opportunity and application is applicable to businesses of all sizes.

Wireless mesh has been around for a while, but mostly confined to municipal and campus-level deployments. Motorola's thinking is correct: As businesses adopt more Web 2.0 and data-intensive applications, they'll need more bandwidth to the endpoint. If you can deliver a wireless network that has high speed, little latency and solid security, what's the justification for running wire?

For solution providers, the entire idea of high-speed wireless mesh networks opens new opportunities for engaging with existing customers and prospects. Everyone knows enterprises and small and midsize businesses have been extending the lives of their switches and routers to save money. Who can blame them? If the box still works, what's the problem? But even SMBs are using more sophisticated applications that require network optimization. For customers with higher data loads, wireless mesh networking gives solution providers a product that both solves bandwidth headaches and provides a savings over existing systems.

This isn't to say that Motorola has the right product or channel program (both of those must be tested and evaluated more thoroughly). But Motorola's concept for the product and the market justifications are sound. It's time to cut ourselves out of the Cat. 5 conundrum and embrace the mesh wireless spectrum.

Lawrence M. Walsh is vice president and group publisher of Channel Insider. How are you building the next generation network: with or without cable? Share your experiences with Larry at lawrence.walsh@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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