VOL. 117 | NO. 192 | Monday, October 27, 2003
From conferences to cafs, wireless Internet coming
Wireless Technology Offers World of Possibility
The Daily News
Yum, its been light years since you programmed synthetic
brownies, said George Jetson in his namesake cartoon.
Within the next few years, a world once only prognosticated
in science fiction films and cartoons could become an everyday reality.
Increasing affordability and availability within the realm
of wireless technology is enabling people to perform domestic chores, such as
turning on a Crock-Pot or turning off a home alarm, from remote locations.
Possibilities. The possibilities are limited only by
ones imagination, industry experts said.
Often referred to as third generation wireless, wireless
technology is a derivative of the digital world created in the early 1980s and
popularized in the general marketplace via digital telephones in the 1990s.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, a five-year-old trade association
combining wireless fidelity technologies, has created technology that allows
laptop users to enter the World Wide Web instantly and minus wires at
conference centers, bookstores and, in some cases, on street corners.
Corey Cobb, manager of a Memphis T-Mobile store, said new
wireless phone technology that lets users snap photographs and instantly e-mail
them is popular in the local market.
But, its only the beginning, he said.
I see that in four or five years, personal computers will
be gone, said Cobb, adding he believes theyll be replaced by phones and
handheld personal digital assistants featuring wireless Internet technology.
These are personal computers running from your hands, he
Adaptable and affordable. Through the purchase and
installation of a base port adaptor, thousands of companies rely on wireless
technology that enables workers to download files at up to 2.4 megabits per
second. Most new computers on the market are equipped to adapt to the ports,
and digital cards can be purchased to provide access for older models.
Due to increasing affordability, some areas within the
service sector such as airport VIP lounges and cafes are installing the
ports as a marketing tool.
Starbucks, for example, has put Wi-Fi technology in more
than 2,500 coffeehouses.
Two years ago, you had to be Net savvy to install this,
said Sean Berry, sales manager of the presentation products group for Memphis
Communications Corporation. Now, its easy to install.
Many Fortune 500 companies, including FedEx and International
Paper, already rely on wireless technology, he said.
Range of uses. Jay Myers, president and chief
executive officer of Interactive Solutions Inc., said wireless communication
technology offers far-ranging applications for a wide variety of professionals,
from surgeons to agricultural scientists who can immediately transmit crop data
from the middle of a cotton field.
Nationally, wireless applications have received the
attention of law enforcement officials who foresee use of the technology to
transmit real-time crime scene data to off-site agents. Similarly, health care
officials envision using the technology to forward medical information from an
ambulance to the hospital its approaching.
Myers said ISI recently received an order from a medical
outfit for a tele-medicine, or teleconferencing, unit.
It has a good application for hospitals because of the
nature of clinics needing to wheel things around, he said.
High hopes. Myers said the industry has high hopes
that the technology sees strong demand in the marketplace.
Considering the technologys mobile and portable nature,
these days thats what you have to have in business, he said.
For several years, various types of home products such as
kitchen appliances have come equipped with digital technology. The technology
eventually will allow homeowners to complete such tasks as keeping track of
food in their refrigerators by reading a digital inventory list, or turning off
a home alarm system via phone.
Drawbacks. Cobb said personal digital assistants are
not always clear or usable because of radio wave interference, depending on the
area. PDAs also dont generally provide as fast a connection to the Internet as
But, they will get much faster, he said. Once all companies
convert to (Global Systems for Mobile Communications, or GSM), by 2005
competition will become tougher due to all the capability that GSM carries.
Security also is an issue with wireless technology.
While most corporations that use wireless technology have
secured data access, owners who use the ports for personal use often dont see
the need to secure or encrypt their data.
The Federal Communications Commission reported that since
2001, subscribers to advanced wireless services have increased exponentially.
Furthermore, it predicts that wireless data traffic will overtake wireless
voice traffic by 2006.
Berry said continued success of wireless technology requires
people with vision to develop the right market applications for the technology.
The challenge is that its so vast that there are so many
possibilities, he said. We have the technology now, so what do we do with it?
Where do you start?
Fewer punch cards. Berry said the new wave of digital
technologys biggest advantage is its ability to let users transmit information
from any location.
That capability translates into an increase in both mobility
and work efficiency, Myers added.
say in the future, its going to be hard to punch a time card because youll
have access (to work) from (any number of) places, Myers said.
Considering the technologys mobile and portable nature,
these days thats what you have to have in business.
- Jay Myers
FCC analysts predict that wireless data traffic will
overtake wireless voice traffic by 2006.