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Matt's got a really interesting post below about yet another rising fixed cost: Copper's getting more expensive, meaning the cost to wire (or re-wire) will continue rising. The thing that naturally pops into your head when you read this is: Wireless. Of course, that's not an ideal solution either.
Matt's got a really interesting post below about yet another rising fixed cost: Copper's getting more expensive, meaning the cost to wire (or re-wire) will continue rising. The thing that naturally pops into your head when you read this is: Wireless. Of course, that's not an ideal solution either.Matt notes one drawback with wireless, namely that the current state of wireless voice service on-prem feature/functions is less than optimal in terms of integration with the enterprise systems.
Another issue in this tug-of-war is power. If your bright idea is to forgo cabling and go all-wireless, you're almost certainly going to need 802.11n, the new high-bandwidth standard that delivers multiple hundreds of Mbps throughput, rather than the current a/b/g systems that top out at 54 Mbps. The challenge with .11n had been that its MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) antennas required more power than standard Power over Ethernet could deliver. Siemens claims to have conquered that problem with its latest system, a claim that Craig Mathias of Farpoint Group has validated. Now the only issue is actually rolling out .11n, which Michael Finneran has blogged about here. The final standard isn't in place, though as Michael notes, the Wi-Fi Alliance has been quite successful in certifying pre-standard products that can be upgraded to the standard without forklift upgrades.
But just deploying ubiquitous 802.11n with PoE is probably going to mean that powering costs, about which we've had a lot of posts recently, are going to go up. Even if other vendors manage to duplicate Siemens' achievement in getting under in under the wire for the PoE standard's power requirements, you're still looking at some time in the future. Add to this the fact that .11n requires a hardware upgrade, and wireless doesn't look like a near-term, inexpensive solution. I'm also not sure how much copper you'd really save, at least with WLAN solutions--after all, you've got to run cable all the way out to the access point, and if you're going wireless-only, you'll have lots of access points in all areas of the building, including places where you don't put phones, like throughout the corridors and common areas, possibly even in the rest rooms. (Men: Aren't you amazed when the guy you're standing next to is talking on his phone?) All in all, such a widespread AP rollout might or might not be less copper than a run to every desktop, and less PoE than powering a phone set on every desktop.
As Matt suggests, the wireless option favored in this scenario might be public-network cellular.