Constantly Connected: Beyond WiFi and Bluetooth.
Technology leaders are pushing the envelope of wireless connectivity well beyond WiFi and Bluetooth. The speed and availability of wireless that we enjoy today promises to be bigger and better as the next generation of standards becomes more pervasive: think constant connectivity at significantly higher speeds and lower costs. Here's a quick overview of emerging wireless standards to watch:
Intel's latest wireless technology, WiMax, delivers wireless broadband connections ranging from one to 10 miles, compared to the 150-foot range of WiFi connections available in many offices and public hotspots today. WiMax is being positioned as a complement to WiFi and an alternative to DSL and cable Internet access in homes today. Although it will be a couple of years before the benefits of WiMax are evident to the mobile user, Intel and major telecom providers are pushing the technology into rural areas where the current hard-wired broadband systems don't reach. If Intel and partners are successful in implementing the WiMax vision, mobile professionals will be able to retire their hotspot finders, because connections will be available everywhere we go. On another note, because WiMax reduces the need for wired provider networks, the wireless broadband market will open up to startups and more intense competition among the major providers, which equates to more options and lower bills for our at-home Internet access.
Mobile-Fi, AKA Mobile Broadband Wireless Access (MBWA), is a similar standard to WiMax, and it seems to be losing the race for industry acceptance. This is probably due to the massive market power of Intel and Alcatel vs. Mobile-Fi's smaller primary backers, Flarion Technologies and Navini Networks. Mobile-Fi differs from WiMax in that it can deliver broadband Internet access to users traveling at speeds of up to 155 miles per hour. Mobile-Fi may be perfect for train commuters, but it may never make it to the mainstream because products will not be offered until after WiMax becomes broadly available in the consumer market.
Ultra Wideband (802.15.3a)
Ultra Wideband, often referred to as UWB, allows you to transfer data wirelessly with a radio connection, much like Bluetooth but hundreds of times faster. Ultra Wideband eliminates the need for USB and Firewire cables between computers and peripherals. Some of the more exciting uses: click a button on your camera and picture files zoom to the desktop, or hit a key on the computer and a DVD movie displays on your flat-screen TV. UWB products, including phones, cameras, and TVs, should begin hitting the shelves in late 2005. UWB and Bluetooth have recently teamed up to create better cooperation and development for both standards, which can only mean good things for consumers who like to operate without wires.
ZigBee is mainly geared towards home and building owners who want to build a network to control household appliances, power, and security. It's a low-power usage technology that operates on the same radio frequency as Bluetooth, microwaves, and cordless phones. The ZigBee Alliance, lead by Mitsubishi Electric and Motorola, has been working on the standard for several years. According to ABI Research, more than a million Zigbee-enabled devices will ship in 2005, and more than 60 million will ship the following year.
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|Date:||May 30, 2006|
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