By Rick Laezman

While wireless local area networks (WLANS) have grown in popularity among home users, their adoption by corporate enterprise is proceeding at a slower pace. For example, the financial services industry, which is often considered to be an early adopter of new technology, has embraced WLANs with only modest enthusiasm.

According to the TowerGroup, a Massachusetts research firm that specializes in the financial services industry, only 14 percent of the country’s leading financial services institutions has implemented a WLAN solution.

The firm’s research identifies several factors that have contributed to the trend. Foremost among them are security and data integrity. Other issues include reliability and speed, standard interoperability and site considerations.

The TowerGroup foresees significant growth of WLANs in the financial services industry over the next few years, as prices decline and cost-effectiveness improves. It forecasts 50 percent of financial services companies will have deployed a WLAN solution by 2006.

According to the firm, financial services institutions can benefit from the use of WLANs in corporate messaging services and systems alerts, exchange floor mobility and so-called ""line-busting’ for easy-to process transactions. However, they will not be accessible for customer use, primarily because of data sensitivity.

Furthermore, most WLAN applications will be installed as complements to existing wired infrastructure, rather than as replacements. According to Ed Kountz, a senior analyst and author of the two reports that publish the findings, ""most financial services companies have already spent millions of dollars on wired networks." EC