July 26, 2010, 12:29 PM — Some existing wireless LANs, based on 802.11abg gear, already "are buckling under video applications," says Andrew Borg, senior research analyst for wireless and mobility at Aberdeen Group, a technology research and consulting firm based in Boston. And the surge in sophisticated mobile devices is making it worse.
In higher education, Borg says, those applications include distance learning, online collaboration and social media; in healthcare, remote medicine and large diagnostic imaging; in physical security, video surveillance; and in offices, media streaming, videoconferencing, online meetings and more.
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The demand increases even more with smartphones and tablets that have Web access and a growing appetite for video. The iPhone 4's FaceTime application, for video chatting over Wi-Fi, is just the most recent and most notable bandwidth-hungry mobile application.
"With the enabling of more mobile multimedia content, my customers' concern is being able to increase network capacity, both technically and economically, to meet demand," says Brad Noblet, a wireless consultant. "Network administrators worry they are fast becoming a public utility for employees and not serving their institution's mission."