If we had more open spectrum would hospitals need wires?

A 300 bed hospital will spend up to $300,000 on a Trapeze system, which is also sold by OEMs like Nortel and 3Com, or the competing Cisco gear. But this lets them give all clinicians these cool Vocera phones.

Doctor with Vocera wifi phoneOne of the general themes of this HIMSS show is the growth of WiFi.

Trapeze Networks was doing big businesss with its WiFi management systems. Since radio waves propagate in a circle but most rooms are square, hospitals need to assure service everywhere and like to bring in a company like Trapeze before they roll out the WiFi.

Management is also needed to balance the load on the network, said director of product marketing Mark Cowtan.

Trapeze' RingMaster offers band steering, which can can increase network capacity 20-40% by switching equipment which can support 802.11a to those lesser-used frequencies. Trapeze also does clustered switching, allocating traffic among access points and sharing the load if a point goes down.

A 300 bed hospital will spend up to $300,000 on a Trapeze system, which is also sold by OEMs like Nortel and 3Com, or the competing Cisco gear. But this lets them give all clinicians these cool Vocera phones.

A few aisles down from Trapeze, Vocera is showing a line of WiFi phones which hang on the neck or clip to the jacket, recharge overnight at the nurses' station, and feature cool features like bedside dictation.

Cowtan told me, and Vocera confirmed, that the phones only work on 80211.b and 802.11g systems, not 802.11a. The reason is the 802.11a chip sets are power hogs, and you need the phone to get through the shift without recharging.

This is yet-another reason why a hospital needs a management system before implementing WiFi, Cowtan said. "We're making rock solid wireless infrastructure. Someone who buys us is on the pricing on-ramp for everything out there."

Which begs the question. If we had more open spectrum, would even hospitals need wires?

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