3Com predicted a boom in the wireless sector last week while unveiling its wireless LAN solution, AirConnect, with a demonstration of the product's mobile capabilities.
"The workforce is becoming much more mobile," said Archie Wilson, managing director of 3Com Australia/New Zealand. "Business people are demanding continuous access to e-mail and other mission-critical applications. This demand shows that wireless LANs will emerge as the next billion-dollar networking industry."With the release of AirConnect, an 11Mbps wireless LAN solution which allows the user to "roam" without the restriction of a cabled network, 3Com aims to establish itself as a leader in the wireless marketplace.
3Com has 20 existing companies already using the AirConnect system, 15 of which are educational institutions. One success story is John Paul College in Brisbane, which allows students instant Internet and intranet access anywhere within the school environment using laptops.
Construction, management companies, hospitals and consulting firms are other sectors that are well suited to the technology, according to Wilson, due to their high levels of employee mobility. According to product marketing manager Chris Stevens, 3Com is currently in discussion with one of the five big consulting companies that is looking to take on the technology prior to the Olympics.
"A wireless LAN is a practical and easy extension of the traditional wired LAN, Wilson said. "By integrating the traditional LAN technologies with the new AirConnect wireless LAN solution, 3Com is creating a single networking experience for business and individuals."While he was reluctant to release specific figures on the proposed growth of the wireless industry, Wilson did say that wireless technology will be a billion- dollar revenue business for 3Com within five years.
Stevens added that AirConnect's ability to utilise a company's established network allows it to slot directly into the existing market. Because of this, 3Com anticipates that the technology will be picked up by most, if not all, of its current channel partners.
The conformation of wireless products to a standardised form is another factor contributing to the increased uptake of the technology, according to Stevens.
He estimates that, by the end of 2000, all wireless products will be able to interact with each other regardless of the manufacturer.
The access points for the AirConnect system are fixed to the ceiling or wall and act as a bridge between the wired networks and up to 63 simultaneous wireless PC or laptop users. The technology has a 100 metre range within an office environment, taking into account walls and obstacles, and a 300 metre range in the open air.