The influx of mobile clients is accelerating an IT rethink of wireless LAN design and operations.

"When WLANs were first deployed the attention was on coverage," says David Morton, director of mobile communications at the University of Washington in Seattle. "You didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the number of devices in a given area, apart from a big lecture hall, and you didn't give a lot of thought on how to keep a session alive as you moved from one area to another."

But with mobile Wi-Fi devices more numerous, users typically are connecting, and authenticating, often but briefly to update social networking sites. Much of the resulting Web traffic increase is often video or audio. Social networking and streaming applications can be more or less chatty.

Sign up to read this article and other insider content.