Declining cost of equipment, need to go mobile and easy deployment are some of the factors driving WLAN growth in India.
The wireless local area network equipment market is fast gathering heat. The Asia Pacific market for WLAN stands tall at over $129.7 million, growing at 38 per cent year-on-year basis and India accounts for a 6.6 per cent share of this market.
Businesses have been deploying WLANs for occasional use -- say, to give workers network access in conference rooms and to let guests and other transients have Internet access on company premises.
More recently, WLANs have become networks of choice for some businesses, often covering large areas and connecting branch offices.
World over, 63 per cent of companies use in-house WLANs to provide access to applications, reveal industry surveys. But these companies face the challenge of finding the right equipment vendor with a system that can handle the load, as well as offer strong security and reliability.
According to the latest IDC Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) Quarterly Wireless Local Area Network tracker report for Q3 2006, D-Link was credited with an 18.9 per cent share in the WLAN market.
Tushar Sighat, vice president (channel business), D-Link India, says, "We are fast adding products for wireless LANs which provide connectivity not just on 802.11g standards but also with the range booster products, which offer for higher speeds and better coverage."
Government has made the use of 802.11b wireless standard on 2.4 GHz frequency band unlicensed for indoor use. D-Link has witnessed a major growth in the number of wireless access points shipped by this year.
"We have been deploying these at homes, offices, malls and hospitals and the trend seems to continue," Sighat informs.
Almost everywhere in India, WLAN is deployed in conjunction with wired LAN, except in homes and for SOHOs.
"Wireless in conjunction with wired enhances mobility of an individual. At present, the percentage of LANs using only wireless is less but growing at a double digit rate," says Sighat.
The declining cost of the equipment, need to go mobile and ease of deployment are some of the important factors driving WLAN growth in India.
"Also, the home users are comfortable with rational investments of between Rs 4,000-10,000 for a wirefree network deployment," says Sanjiv Gupta, regional sales director (APAC), LinkSys.
The technology, he estimates, will be increasingly used by corporates, disseminating to SMEs, SOHOs and homes in 2007-08.
"The technology is already reaching the end customer through public hot spots in places like airports, offices and public areas," Gupta says.
Future WLAN technologies, hope the industry players, will see inclusion of standards that boost speed (for example 802.11n that gives actual throughput of 108Mbps) and enhance security (802.11e and 802.11r can be the answer to IT security nightmares).
"The technology is becoming quite ubiquitous for the end customer through hot spots that are easily accessible like the ones put up by Sify in coffee shops, airports and hotels," says Gupta. No wonder even the state-run RailTel Corp of India has already carried out Wi-Fi connectivity tests on a few trains.
"The tests have proved that passengers will experience seamless connectivity on running trains. Considering the revenue it can yield, the project is being given top priority," revealed Satya Prakash, divisional railway manager of Western Railway in an official statement.
RailTel will also be setting up local area network to provide Wi-Fi connectivity within stations. A WLAN will be created in the coaches through transmitters placed inside them, claims RailTel, with a roof-mounted antenna transmitting the signal from towers set up at railway stations.