Success stories aren't the only stories. There are things to watch out for.
Reliability. Interference has proven a problem in some types of applications. “We have one client that had this whole thing laid out, and when we went into test mode we had to scrap the whole thing because we had it next to an airport and every time certain airplanes came over it just blew the daylights out of the signal,” said Roy Bordes, president of The Bordes Group.
Mike Downes of Firetide offers one solution to this concern: “You eliminate a lot of the interference problems by operating on a 5GHz spectrum. Most wireless devices operate at 2.4 GHZ, so with 5 you get less interference with other devices.”
Distance and Terrain. Many wireless networks aren't made to extend over more than a few miles, and some have a hard time dealing with atmospheres with too many obstructions. “The radio transceivers selected should be either long-range non-line-of-sight products—when supporting more challenging installations with many buildings and trees in the transmission path—or, conversely, higher-bandwidth line-of-sight products for shorter-range applications without obstacles in the transmission path,” said Ray Shilling, vice president of sales and marketing for AvaLAN Wireless.
Shilling goes on to say, however, that technology issues can generally be overcome.
“Today's wireless Ethernet technologies vary widely, are fairly cost effective due to increasing competitive pressures, and can address almost any installation configuration. In short, the technology is NOT in fact the limiting factor. For the most part, it is the constraints of budget and the appropriate alignment of the senior management with the authority to release the necessary funds that becomes the real challenge to the municipality. If the budgets are available, and the senior officials share the vision of the emergency services personnel, then the projects are being readily approved and deployed.”