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Report: 24% Of Enterprises Have Deployed Wireless Nets

Although it has yet to make inroads as a critical enterprise networking technology, wireless local area network (WLAN) adoption continues to grow, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

In "North American WLAN Adoption Grows," analyst Ellen Daley notes that some 24% of enterprises surveyed have implemented LANs, which is up from 9% two years ago, while 40% are evaluating or piloting the technology as the year comes to an end. Larger enterprises seem to be leading the WLAN growth curve. Some 31% of enterprises with 20,000 employees or more have implemented the technology, compared to 22% of midsized organizations.

Nevertheless, WLAN adoption doesn't go very deep in most verticals, and Daley observes that it is "still used only as a convenience in most industries outside of retail, healthcare, and manufacturing." Within those industry sectors, however, WLAN has taken off. Some 33% of public sector organizations --- including education, healthcare and government --- have deployed WLANs, as have 30% of manufacturing companies. Comparatively, with 5% of firms reporting deployments, the finance and insurance industries are well behind the WLAN curve, with 52% having no plans at all to deploy the technology.

Daley does, however, see a big WLAN boost in the offing with the much-heralded arrival of useable voice over WLAN (VoWLAN) phones. "The ingredients to deploy these handsets are finally here," she notes, "more than 40% of North American and 30% of European enterprises have deployed VoIP or are in the process, dual-mode products like Motorola’s CN620 handset are in carrier pipelines for 2006, and WLAN adoption is mainstream."