Wireless networking has received a mixed report card from analyst Ovum, which described 2003 as a watershed year for 802.11 networking.
Ovum also said it would be next year at the earliest before the market understands what technologies using the 802.11 wireless standards can offer.
Richard Dineen, research director at Ovum, said: "With maturity supposedly comes respectability, and blue-chip vendors such as Cisco and Intel are beginning to impose order on this fragmented, chaotic market with high-profile initiatives."
Dineen said the launch of Intel's Centrino technology, and Cisco's creation of the CCX compatibility programme and its purchase of consumer wireless manufacturer Linksys had pushed wireless into the limelight, not just in the IT industry but among the public.
"But doubters have begun to question the prospect of seeing a return on investment from deploying hotspot networks, focusing in particular on the poor scalability of current Wi-Fi technology and high recurring costs for backhaul," he said.
"Either way, there has been very little hard evidence so far to prove either the evangelists or the naysayers right."
Martin Cassidy, general manager at wireless vendor Bluesocket, said: "Last year was very hard work. People were trying out wireless, but this year people are installing large networks."
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