What the future holds
The IEEE 802.11 WLAN standard will be one of the first generations of standardization for wireless LAN networks. This standard will set the pace for the next generation standard, addressing the demands for higher performance higher data rates and higher frequency bands. Interoperability between WLAN products from different equipment manufacturers will be important to the success of the standard. These products will be implemented on ISA, or PCMCIA cards for use in handheld personal computers, PDAs, laptops or desktop applications. Wireless LAN applications are currently mostly in vertical markets. It is expected that many horizontal applications will follow as 802.11 network infrastructure is installed. Over time the increase in demand for 802.11 products is expected to increase competition and to make wireless LANs more competitive and economical for virtually all applications requiring wireless connectivity. On the horizon is the need for higher data rates, for applications requiring wireless connectivity at 10Mbps and higher. This will allow WLANs to match the data rate of the majority of wired LANs. There is no current definition of the characteristics for the higher data rate signal. However, for many of the options available to achieve it there is a clear upgrade path for to maintain interoperability with 1 and 2 Mbps systems while providing the higher data rate as well.