Throw out those Cat5 cables: wired Ethernet is on its way out, ousted by the growing power and speed of wireless technology, according to one analyst group.

IT research company Burton Group has released a report that compares 802.11n to Gigabit Ethernet and predicts 802.11n wireless technology will start eroding the wired Ethernet market within the next two to three years.

Report author and senior analyst Paul DeBeasi said that "802.11n marks the beginning of a rapid market shift away from LAN access deployments using traditional wired Ethernet".

"802.11n will put pervasive mobility on the fast track," said DeBeasi. "IT professionals should start thinking now about how they will deploy, maintain, and benefit from an all-wireless LAN.”

While switch trunks and data centre networks will need wired Ethernet for many years to come, refinements in system silicon, radio design, network control, wireless security, and power management will make 802.11n the preferred and dominant LAN access technology in the future, reckoned the report. As a result, DeBeasi's comparative analysis recommends enterprises should consider 802.11n an appropriate LAN access substitute for wired Ethernet in the following circumstances:

  • When the number of laptop users is growing
  • When the enterprise uses mobile applications
  • When Fast Ethernet throughput is good enough
  • When the enterprise deploys Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
  • When moves/adds/changes are frequently made
  • When the risk of deliberate denial of service attack is low to moderate
  • When Ethernet cable installation is difficult

"One can analyse the differences between 802.11n and Ethernet with regard to performance, security, manageability, cost and impact on staff," said DeBeasi. "However, the definitive and unalterable competitive advantage that 802.11n has over Ethernet is pervasive mobility."

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