iPad Influx Spurs Demand for Fast Wi-Fi

The first day the iPad went on sale in April, half the financial analysts and executives at securities brokerage Baron Funds in Manhattan lined up and bought their own -- and then immediately wanted to use them at work.

"They got no reception in the offices and said, 'We need good Wi-Fi,' so I said, 'Let's get a budget for this,'" said Henry Mayorga, Baron's manager of network technology, in an interview.

Mayorga quickly evaluated Wi-Fi gear from Trapeze Networks, Aruba Networks and Cisco Systems . Cisco won out because it could handle various coverage issues, including radio interference from a large electronic control center for elaborate fish tanks that adorn the Baron offices.

Cisco's 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi gear couldn't handle the throughput demands of the iPads, Mayorga found, but Cisco's faster 802.11n gear worked -- and required fewer access points than the rivals' did. So he installed 18 Cisco Aironet 3502 access points with CleanAir technology to reduce interference.

Mayorga praised Cisco's 802.11n hardware, which cost $42,000, but he rejected Cisco's security software and instead chose Avenda Systems' eTIPS, which cost $15,000.

About 50 Baron analysts use iPads to consume massive amounts of information in the office, but they use desktop computers for creating documents or spreadsheets, Mayorga said.

While iPads are now the "machine of choice" for Baron users, he noted that the firm requires employees to pay for the devices themselves.

This story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an earlier version that first appeared on Computerworld.com.

Read more about wireless internet in Computerworld's Wireless Internet Topic Center.

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