For these reasons, experts expect the WLAN market to grow steadily, even in the face of an economic downturn. Cahners projects that WLAN revenues will grow to $4.6 billion by 2005. WLANs have already made significant penetration into the education, hospitality, healthcare and financial industries, and continually decreasing equipment prices should help drive adoption in other industries. Even owners of public meeting places - now known in the industry as hotspots - are trying to get into the act. Coffee shops, airline lounges, and libraries are just a few of the venues offering WLAN access to their patrons, enabling their customers to make better use of what used to be mandatory unconnected time.
WLAN Architecture and Security Challenges
As with any technology shift, migrating users to WLANs has its drawbacks.
The initial investment in hardware may be significant and somewhat irksome. Organisations will have to deploy multiple wireless access points, and outfit every user with wireless network cards, when most will already have perfectly good NIC cards for the wired LAN.
But the chief concern in migrating to WLAN access is security. Physical wires turn out to be one of the primary obstacles to attackers looking to hack their way onto a LAN. It's unlikely that a stranger plugging into a corporate network would go unchallenged, either by the network security that's already in place, or by surrounding workers.
On a WLAN, of course, this obstacle disappears. Instead, user credentials and data are broadcast from both the client and the wireless access point (AP) in a radius, which may reach 300 feet or more.
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