Cahners In-Stat, predicts that the chip sets used to build wireless LAN cards will grow at an annual rate of 41 percent over the next four years. According to senior analyst Allen Nogee, that includes both wireless chip sets built into plug-in network interface cards and those that PC makers will begin placing inside PCs, especially notebooks, later this year.
He said building wireless LAN adapters into PCs now makes sense with the wide adoption by network vendors of a wireless standard called 801.11b, which supports speeds of up to 11M-bps, equivalent to that of wired Ethernet.
The standard and the resulting interoperability among equipment from different vendors should be a major driver for adoption of wireless LANs, Nogee said. However, he added, Apple Computer's success with its AirPort wireless network is also inspiring PC makers to move quickly toward making wireless a part of the notebook package.
Apple has yet to embed the wireless chip set into its computers, but it builds an antenna into its iBook, Nogee said. And Apple has had success with AirPort in the educational market.
Nogee said now that the interoperability and speed are there, wireless LANs make sense in old buildings that are hard to wire and in leased buildings, where tenants aren't permitted to run cables. Also, he said, "the programmer community is behind this (wireless networking), because they can go into a conference room and immediately create an ad-hoc network for a project."