I recently returned from an Economic Summit in Loudoun, VA, where I was invited because of a paper I wrote earlier this year, "Reviving the FORGOTTEN Information Superhighway." The summit expanded my thinking about the role of government in telecommunications policy and led to an invitation to speak at Austin InnoTech, a regional conference and exhibition with focus on the mutual relationship between technologies and innovation. This newer paper summarizes and expands on that presentation, which was called "Fiber, Wireless and Bandwidth for TeleWork."
Several new technologies will improve the range and speed of wireless networks, with a combined effect of 10,000 times the capacity of dialup 56 Kbps modems. With such advancements, networks that use radio signals for communication could replace most of the network cabling we now use. How real is this promise? When will we see it? And what will it mean for equipment manufacturers, service providers, homebuilders, and homeowners?
If you plan to jump on the Wi-Fi bandwagon, you must choose among several 802.11 standards that are evolving at a fast rate and have different features and benefits. Shop around and compare prices but focus on value and consider other tradeoffs too. You may even want to take this article with you, and potentially share it with the sales rep.
Debate still lingers over government's role in building an Information Superhighway and whether our lack of a national broadband policy means the concept is forgotten. Broadband - the "always on" network connection that receives and transmits digital content and services at high speeds - was supposed to change the way we live, work and play … as well as how we learn, shop, make things, entertain ourselves, and interact with others. But since that aging vision is coming slower than expected, this paper aims to revive the initiative.
After such a tough year economically, I was happy to see so much activity at CES and learn that attendance was up - over 100,000. It was clear that all sorts of wireless markets are hot - from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, to mobile phones, GPS, satellite radio, and more. While all of this activity will benefit consumers and their home networks, it was also clear that product designers must balance trade-offs and make choices appropriate for each specific application. You can't get it all.
Applications determine bandwidth needs and costs. Health monitoring, for example, requires very little bandwidth but saves lives and has high value. If your applications only need to send text and data, then dial-up modems can provide enough bandwidth for your needs, and they cost less than broadband. The Internet experience is enriched by added graphics, images, sounds and video, but this requires more bandwidth.
Innovative semiconductor companies are introducing software-defined radios for wireless LANs this year, and we already see examples of multi-mode in mobile phones and enterprise wireless access points. I expect to see multi-mode PC adapters in 2002 that help move the industry away from the confusing Wireless Wars to a more cordial Wireless Wedding. Consumers and industry will both benefit from this new direction.
Some of the products discussed provide adequate performance under ideal conditions, but there are many things that emit radio interference that can impact performance. These include stadium lights, cordless phones, microwave ovens, wireless LANs, and anything else that operates in the unlicensed 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz frequency band.
If there's a Wireless Home Networking lesson to learn from the Tower of Babel, it's that we don't need (and will never have) one wireless standard for homes, offices, schools, airports, restaurants, grocery stores, bowling alleys, and beauty shops. As intriguing as it may sound, it is not practical or desirable to have one wireless standard for all environments, purposes, and types of devices.
In this last of a three-part series, I will explore some of the Social and Demographic trends that are driving the development of the Networked Home. The first article covered Science and Technology Trends, and the second focused on Market and Consumer trends. As always, your comments and suggestions are encouraged.
This is the second of three articles that examine key trends enabling and driving the development of the Networked Home. The first article covered Science and Technology Trends while this one discusses Market and Consumer Trends. The final installment will address Social and Demographic Trends. As always, your comments and suggestions are encouraged.
This is the first of three articles that will each examine key trends enabling and driving the development of the Networked Home. The first article covers Science and Technology Trends, followed by articles on Market and Consumer Trends, and finally Social and Economic Trends. Your comments and suggestions are encouraged.
With powerline networking, you'll be able to put your desktop PCs anywhere you like instead of being forced to put them by a phone outlet. It will also be easier to buy and network other devices - printers, scanners, DSL and cable modems, TV set-top boxes, game consoles, screen phones and major appliances.
The cost of connecting PCs with radio waves instead of wires is now as low as $99 per system, and there are several technologies to choose from. But that's the problem - too many to choose from. Since a confused market doesn't buy, I'm dedicating this second HomeToys.com "mentor" article to positioning the three emerging wireless standards - Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, and HomeRF.
New types of devices have helped to change the thinking of home networking experts. Six years ago they said to put bedroom phone outlets by the bed and TV outlets across the room. But they didn't anticipate interactive program guides or NetTV devices that require both a phone and TV outlet. So today they put a phone outlet by every TV outlet. Still, no one can fully anticipate future wiring needs, and that's the message of this article.
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