If you’ve ever tried connecting your laptop from hotel or convention centre hot spots, you know that wireless still has a long way to go. It still suffers from interference issues with so many signals floating around, which makes wireless LAN deployments complex and fraught with all sorts of unexpected problems.
For customers, there are still a lot of hidden costs and deployment headaches associated with WLAN. This could be why Extricom, a WLAN vendor that provides solutions for converged data, voice and video, is expanding its presence in North America through broadline distribution.
While the vendor was selling its wares through Ingram Micro since mid-summer on an informal basis, that relationship is now official, and solution providers have access to its entire product portfolio.
Previously Extricom sold direct (and it will continue selling direct to some extent), but it seems many of its solution providers saw value in distribution for logistical and support reasons. For the vendor, too, it will provide access to literally thousands of new potential customers, which it would have difficulty doing on its own.
This market reach could be why it hasn’t pursued high-profile relationships with niche distributors, and has instead chosen to distribute a complex solution through a broadliner. According to Extricom, Ingram has the tools and support networks in place to deal with solution providers looking to get into wireless.
The vendor is also pushing what it calls a “next-generation” WLAN infrastructure, which uses a shift in architecture from cell planning to channel blanket. What that means, essentially, is that it eliminates the co-channel interference that plagues traditional WLAN systems.
This feature alone could be a big selling point for customers – but solution providers also need to know how to sell it (hence, the reason for bringing Ingram on board).
This could boost the appeal of wireless beyond data to voice (VoWLAN) and video, which require next-generation technology to improve quality of service and provide broader appeal. When it comes to voice and video, high quality is essential – otherwise people just aren’t going to bother.
VoWLAN, in the simplest terms, is VoIP delivered over wireless (and is sometimes referred to as VoWi-Fi), which can be used via a PDA or softphone. While this offers all sorts of possibilities for seamless mobility, we aren’t there yet, and one of the biggest barriers to the adoption of VoWLAN to date is inconsistent performance.
For solution providers, access to the right products, training and support will be essential for educating their customer base about the future of WLANs – and in some cases, vendors aren’t going to be able to do the job all on their own.