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In a December report, Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney predicted that by the end of 2011, 70% of all new worldwide voice and data client-to-LAN connections will be wireless. The firm also estimated that $100 billion will be wasted over the coming five years following outdated network design principles.
Included in that figure is Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop.
The takeaway is that all organizations need to ask a fundamental question: "What is our strategic platform for network access connectivity?" If the answer isn't "wireless," you need to take a hard look at up-front and ongoing costs--and possibly reconsider your stance. In our experience, wiring Ethernet commonly hovers around $250 per drop, though site-specific considerations such as a historical building or union labor can double or triple that cost. Once you've paid for the copper wire, there are edge Ethernet switches to consider at anywhere from $50 to $100 per port.
According to Motorola, which admittedly has a stake in this game, a wired network costs $88 per user per year for maintenance and support, compared with $12.51 for a WLAN. While that might be a bit optimistic, there's no way around the fact that purposing a single wired Ethernet port and cable to serve many clients via an access point does in fact translate to significant savings.
While you'll still pay a premium for 802.11n APs--Cisco's new 11n 1250 AP was priced at $1,299 for the dual-radio version we tested recently-- we expect prices to drop over the coming year.