Editor’s Note: Below is the e-mail exchange between me and Toyoshi Matsumoto of Osaka Gas Co., which was hailed almost four years ago as the largest all-wireless office. For background, see here. I reproduce the exchange below unedited. -Michael Morisy
1) How did the wireless experiment in 2006 go?
It went very well. The project proceeded as originally scheduled and we achieved the 50% cost saving and improved efficiency as projected.
2) Did you continue on with Meru in this project?
We have been using Meru since the project started. We have also other products from vendors such as Cisco, Aluba (sic), etc., to identify similarities and differences among them to determine their compatibility to our environment, because wireless technologies and standards continue to advance.
3) Is this office now 100% wireless, or was it just deskphones that were wireless?
We are using WAN for phones and PCs. Is that your definition of 100%? In fact we have NOT removed all LAN cables. Some fixed IP phones, mainly used for receiving calls from customers or business partners are wired because the calls should be answered as the company not as an employee. Desktop PCs are also wired because they do not need mobility. Another use of wired LAN is the emergency use when WLAN gets unstable.
4) Have you upgraded to .11n, and have you run into any challenges with that?
Not yet, but as stated above, we are trying various products and will try .11n in the near future because we are planning to replace the current wireless system in 2011 that is our Meru products’ economical end-of-life.
5) If you’ve moved to 100% wireless, why did you and what benefits did you see in terms of cost savings or efficiency?
6) If you’re not, what was behind the decision not to go 100% wireless?
It’s not necessarily appropriate to suggest that wireless itself contributes to cost saving or improving efficiency. In many cases of introducing wireless LAN as a replacement of wired LAN, you cannot expect cost savings.
Our project started from the replacement of conventional PBXs. PBXs were so expensive that we could achieved 50% reduction of facility cost in terms of depreciation cost.
In terms of efficiency improvement, we not only introduced wireless LAN but also promoted to change our workstyle from paper-based one to full-digital one. Wireless environment and full-digital workstyle allow us to access, transmit and share real-time information anywhere, which leads to efficiency improvement.
7) Any other advice for companies considering going all wireless?
We believe that the use of wired and wireless systems and 3G and VoIP phones in optimal combinations is important for us to improve our work efficiency and thereby reducing operation costs.
“Wireless” is a means, but not a destination.