A new technology like Wi-Fi has to cost more than the wired Ethernet, right? That depends on how you do the accounting, says Eller.
At $100 to $200 per PC and $500 to $1,000 per access point, the cost of wireless hardware is typically two to four times the cost of wired network components. But the higher cost of Wi-Fi hardware is offset by its ease of installation and lower main-tenance costs. And you can look forward to steep Wi-Fi adaptor price decreases of up to one-third in the following months, predicts Bradley Morse, vice president of marketing for D-Link, an Irvine, California, manufacturer of networking products.
Most desktop Wi-Fi adaptors require the opening of the PC and the use of a PCI slot. But D-Link has come out with a USB adaptor, the D-Link DWL-120, which you can find for $159 (street), further lowering IT support costs. Likewise, portable users need only slide in a $100 (street) Wi-Fi PC Card in a Type II slot.
But counting costs is shortsighted, says Eller, who's more interested in the productivity benefits. "Nobody did a cost-benefit analysis on Wi-Fi," he reports. "It worked, it was cool, it was useful, and we bought it."
Wireless networks have been around for years but have never really caught on. Part of the problem was their sub-2Mbps transfer speeds. More than that, says Paulo, there has never been the kind of marketing push and distribution infrastructures-not to mention technical support-that are behind Wi-Fi today. "People want to have some kind of assurance that all this stuff will work together," explains Paulo.
It all suggests that work is not just about the office anymore-or even the home office. Eller believes he works best out on the deck in his backyard. It's the only place his wife will let him smoke a cigar while he reads his e-mail.
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