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What's the networking answer to the enterprise mobility question?

By Max Burkhalter
September 5, 2012
Every time I walk down the street on my lunch break, without fail, I notice a few people meandering along the sidewalk looking oddly distracted and out of place. When I first saw somebody shambling along the sidewalk with his head turned down as if staring at the ground, my mind went immediately to thoughts of the zombie apocalypse and started thinking about how to store up supplies. OK, that may be a stretch, but I was a little concerned. Then I noticed the guy was just so engrossed with his new phone that he wasn't bothering to watch where he was going.

That was a few years ago. Now, whenever I look around on my way to lunch, I see smartphones everywhere, and people are much more adept at using them. What's more, I notice very few individuals who are actually using them for personal reasons. One guy is always talking loudly on speaker phone to a business associate from India, another has an impulse to check her text messages every two seconds in case she is missing something from work.

According to a recent study from iPass, employees who use smartphones and other mobile devices tend to work up to an extra 20 hours per week. Furthermore, many respondents explained that they no longer bother to get away from work when they go on vacation or spend time with their families; they just keep their mobile devices nearby.

All of this begs the simple question - why the heck are we bothering with offices anymore anyway? Companies spend thousands of dollars on wired network systems, Wi-Fi and data transport services, only to have their users prefer to work on their mobile devices anyway. If this is the future, where does the network stand?

The answer is simpler than it may seem - the future of the network is both optical and wireless. The iPass study found that the widespread nature of Wi-Fi allows the average mobile worker to connect to Wi-Fi networks approximately 60 percent of the time. Before long, corporate and public Wi-Fi infrastructure will allow for 100 percent wireless connectivity - a truly anytime, anywhere network.

But as Wi-Fi use expands, companies have to think about where the bandwidth will come from. This is where optical infrastructure comes into play. Generally, the office LAN provides the backhaul for Wi-Fi. Optical backbone is the backhaul for the LAN. As a result, fiber-to-Ethernet media converters will likely play a major role in the future of the network, as the technology is key to connecting the backhaul with the LAN, enabling Wi-Fi.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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