» Subscribe Today!
More of what you want to know.
The Daily News

Forgot your password?
TDN Services
Research millions of people and properties [+]
Monitor any person, property or company [+]

Skip Navigation LinksHome >
VOL. 117 | NO. 192 | Monday, October 27, 2003

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Comments ()
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 said.

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 traditional computers.

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.

Id 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.


PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396