The Ubiquitous Promise of WiFi is Near - Page 2

May 8, 2008

Marcia Gulesian

And, in a compromise designed to mollify some interest groups opposed to expanding use of white-space spectrum, Google proposed a "safe harbor" on channels 36-38 of the freed-up analog TV spectrum for exclusive use by wireless microphones, along with medical telemetry and radio astronomy devices. In effect, no white-space devices could use these channels.

WiFi 2.0

This large amount of spectrum, coupled with advanced signal processing techniques made practical by the exponential growth in computing power (Moore's law), can make data rates in the gigabits-per-second available in the not too distant future. As a result, we soon could see a low cost and open infrastructure, supporting near unlimited bandwidth; improving every year as computer and radio technologies continue to evolve. This would be akin to a faster, longer range, higher data rate WiFi service—“WiFi 2.0” if you will.

We live in an era marked by two competing models of packetized communications. One in which the network provider acts as a gatekeeper by deciding which communications (in terms of content, application used, protocol used, how expensive they are) move easily across its network and onto the (authorized) handsets of users (the cell phone model).

The other in which the network provider makes available an interconnected, commodity, non-discriminatory transport service (essentially, a utility connectivity product) on which competitive communications travel that can be introduced without the knowledge or permission of the network provider and can be accessed via any handset (the Internet model).

I don’t expect that either of these models will go away any time soon. However, at some point in the future, I believe that you will see fewer people carrying around pocketfuls of different kinds of wireless devices. And, you and your customers, business partners and fellow employees will soon be able to do things that are currently difficult on today’s limited wireless networks.

Stay tuned.

Marcia Gulesian has served as software developer, project manager, CTO, and CIO over an eighteen-year career. She is author of well more than 100 feature articles on IT, its economics, and its management, many of which appear on CIO Update.

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