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Wireless Comes Into Its Own

Two years ago, a cover story in Cabling Systems concluded that wireless technology will live, but it will not conquer.

April 1, 2004  

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Two years ago, a cover story in Cabling Systems concluded that wireless technology will live, but it will not conquer.

The article cited a report from the Yankee Group on the wireless data market, which indicated that while there has been a great deal of speculation about whether or not the market will grow, the more crucial question that must be answered is whether wireless carriers will make money from offering these services?

That issue and more formed the basis of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ annual Technology Forecast.

Its authors suggested that widespread mobile Internet usage has unlimited potential to change the face of business, but its success depends on the timely development of new applications designed for the unique characteristics of the mobile environment.

“To be successful, the mobile Internet will need to find its own dominant applications – it won’t just be the conventional Internet delivered on a handheld device,” Terry Ritter, director with the firm’s strategic technology group, stated at the time.

The same could be said for WLAN, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Bluetooth – named after Harald Blatan II, the 10th century Danish king who united Denmark and Norway — and what in 2002, was the emerging Wi-Fi hot spot market.

“We are entering an age of personal wireless communications when more than one billion people will be within seconds of each other, no matter where they are, by means of a device they carry on their body, in their pocket, or in their purse,” said Bill Cross, a management consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Canadian authority about the findings contained in the forecast.

“How these devices will connect to the Internet and interact with each other are the next big questions left to be answered.”

A great deal has changed since the article appeared.

For starters, large organizations such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Petro-Canada are no longer just talking about implementing the technology, they’ve gone ahead and done it.

Petro-Canada has selected Airlink Communications’ 1X Raven for a wireless deployment into their fleets trucks that deliver petroleum products to homes and businesses on a weekly basis, while Home Depot recently ordered 39,500 wireless bar code scanners from Symbol Technologies Inc.

There are many reasons why the next generation of the wireless revolution has arrived — advances in PDAs, cellular technology, increased usage in handheld scanners, the 802.11 standards body, new security initiatives and finally, the carriers themselves.

Canada’s Wi-Fi industry certainly received a major boost from national wireless carriers following the recent signing of an inter-carrier agreement that establishes common standards for roaming and interoperability of the public hotspots they operate.

Bell Mobility, Microcell Solutions, Rogers AT&T Wireless and Telus Mobility plan to create a common brand identifier for Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.

Under terms of the agreement, all public commercial hotspots operated by the carriers, and any other Canadian operator or hotspot owner who meets the minimum requirements and chooses to join the roaming alliance, will be branded consistently with the common hotspot identifier.

Wireless may not be on the verge of knocking copper off the mountain, as one observer suggested two years ago, but as this issue’s cover story proves, its stature has certainly grown.

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