Why You'll Go Wireless on September 17, 2003
Jesse Berst, Editorial Director<BR><I>ZDNet AnchorDesk</I>
Wednesday, June 24, 1998
There came a day in the late '80s when you had to have
a fax. You couldn't be taken seriously as a
businessperson without a fax number on your card.
In a similar fashion, there will come a day when you'll
have to go wireless. That day will be September 17,
I'm not talking here about narrowband services such as
cellular phones. I mean broadband services that let you
connect wirelessly to the Internet with a handheld
device. That type of wireless connectivity will become
"mandatory" once four conditions are satisfied:
Capacity. Data rates fast enough for realistic
Coverage. Service anywhere on the planet at
Critical mass. Enough customers and enough
vendors to create a self-sustaining market.
Killer applications. Software and services that
give you a competitive edge.
We're just getting glimmerings of what those apps may
look like. Here are four possibilities:
* The personal assistant. Many companies are working on
this idea already. To get a "Palmpilot on steroids,"
your handheld must be continuously connected to the
latest addresses, the latest changes to your calendar,
the latest messages from your office and so on.
* The personal communicator. Think cell phone + email +
voice mail + fax. In the palm of your hand. Anywhere,
* The ultimate pathfinder. Wireless global positioning,
so your handheld always knows where you are. Plus
wireless connectivity to city guides and maps.
* The virtual wallet. Digital ID, digital cash, digital
credit cards, all on the same device that does the jobs
SIGNPOSTS ALONG THE WAY
How will we know when the breakthrough is near? Watch
for these signs.
* Faster data transmission. Most of today's wireless
networks only carry data reliably at 14.4 K or so. Work
has begun on a third generation standard that will
support rates up to 2 Mbps. Look for widespread
deployment in three or four years.
* Satellite shakeout. At least a dozen global satellite
networks will be launched in the next few years. Once
they're all up and running, we'll see falling prices and
a market share battle. When you see the first mergers
and acquisitions, you'll know we're close to complete
global coverage at reasonable rates.
* Handheld voice recognition. When voice recognition
gets good enough that it can be shoehorned into a
battery operated handheld, we won't need keyboards. And
all sorts of killer applications become possible.
I've done my research, I've investigated the
technology, I've considered the social and
psychological aspects and I've determined that the
critical day will come on September 17, 2003. You've
got 1911 shopping days to get your wireless handheld,
or be held in scorn by the world's digital elite.
You've been warned.
Wireless Communications Briefing - Red Herring
Motorola, Teledesic Plan Satellite Network - ZDNN
Two-Way Satellites Set To Muscle In On Data - Inter@ctive Week
Get AnchorDesk's email summary in your inbox! - ZDNet AnchorDesk
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