A range of companies with wireless LANs are discovering that 50% to 90% or more of Ethernet ports now go unused, because Wi-Fi has become so prevalent.
They look at racks of unused switches, ports, Ethernet wall jacks, the cabling that connects them all, the yearly maintenance charges for unused switches, electrical charges and cooling costs. So why not formally drop what many end users have already discarded — the Ethernet cable?
“There’s definitely a rightsizing going on,” says Michael King, research director, mobile and wireless, for Gartner. “By 2011, 70% of all net new ports will be wireless. People are saying, ‘we don’t need to be spending so much on a wired infrastructure if no one is using it.”
Many of these issues were predicted in fall 2007 by Burton Group Analyst Paul DeBeasi, in a report provocatively titled “The end of Ethernet?” In it, he argued that the demand for mobility and the advent of 802.11n networks with shared throughput of 150M to 180Mbps would lead enterprises to cut the Ethernet access cord. (See our Clear Choice Test of four 802.11n vendors’ gear.)