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Data out of thin air.

Wireless networking is hot, and we're convinced it is going to get hotter. Wireless has made substantial inroads in voice, and has always been attractive territory once dominated by data networking, but speed limitations and expense have kept it in check. Already new standards and technologies are making wireless a reasonable alternative to wired networks in more and more situations. Beginning with this month's special focus on wireless. I'll be doing a regular column that examines the latest developments in wireless technology.

REVIEWING IEEE 802.11

This month, Lucent's Angela Champness analyzes the scope of 802.11, an IEEE-sponsored standard that specifies how wireless LAN products from different vendors talk to one another, and gauges its impact on vendor interoperability. Dennis Klein examines the service offerings of a cross-section of wireless vendors and raises questions about the potentially constraining effect of the standard. You will appreciate Klein's explanation of the embedded security inherent in phases of wireless technology.

Among other things, 802.11 establishes a data exchange rate of up to 2 Mbps over infrared or radio frequency bands. Bell Labs has recently received a patent for a direct-sequence/pulse-position modulation (DS/PPM) technology that will push WLAN data modulation rates up to 10 Mbps.

The new technology will allow transmission in the 2.4 GHz band, using direct-sequence, spread-spectrum technology to reduce interference. DS/PPM systems will allow improved audio and video transmission over wireless LAN systems, benefiting education, public safety, and health care particularly. Lucent promises that DS/PPM-based systems will be fully compliant with IEEE 802.11 offerings.

WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

Klein also observes that there are currently more than 17,500 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the U.S., and the number is increasing daily. Customer demand is high, but it's a very competitive business, he says.

Flat-rate monthly pricing has made the traditional dial-up market much less lucrative than it was just three or four years ago, and many ISPs are now turning to other ways of improving their revenue and profitability, like offering additional mailboxes or graduated access services.

Other differentiating services might include marketing to corporate America, with offerings such as comprehensive Web site hosting, LAN-to-Internet service, as well as nationwide access to virtual private networks (VPNs) for telecommuters and mobile employees, Klein believes.

OUR CROWDED SKIES

Motorola has announced a $12.9 billion satellite network, Celestri, targeted to provide video services and highspeed data internationally. Using low Earth orbiting (LEO) and geostationary (GEO) satellites, Motorola plans to begin deploying services in 2002.

Throughout the world, deregulation, privatization, and competition are speeding installation of satellite-based infrastructure for universal fixed and mobile telephony, data, and video communications.

If frequency bands can be coordinated worldwide, the constellation strategy will enable anyone to set up a direct link via satellite to use the constellation system and its services anywhere in the world. The "anyone, anywhere" potential of this technology links it closely to the telecomm market.

New satellite-based services are being targeted at the world's growing middle class. Direct-to-home (DTH) TV using small, inexpensive receive antennas is just one example. Satellite-based Internet access and voice link technology are becoming more reliable, raising the possibility that we might begin to talk about Quality of Service for these services.

Early success in the United States, Europe, and Latin America emphasizes our growing need for large, high-capacity GEOs.

Worldwide, DTH companies like DIRECTV, USSB, SES Astra, News Corp., and AsiaSat project in excess of 100 million subscribers by the first decade of the 21st century. As demand begins to outstrip supply, the satellite industry is challenged to increase access to space while maximizing the capacity of each satellite launched.

John S. Perkins, vice president for launch services acquisition at Hughes Communications, notes that "with virtually each new satellite system we launch, whole new industries are created. Direct-to-home TV. Satellite mobile telephony. Global PCS and highspeed access to the Internet. Real-time, interactive multimedia exchange. Global air traffic control and navigation."

He forecasts the economic impact of these emerging industries will be measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Literally, the sky's the limit.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Industry Trend or Event; wireless networking is increasingly regarded as a reasonable alternative to wired networks
Author:Montgomery, James W.
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 1, 1997
Words:684
Previous Article:Reaching out successfully.
Next Article:Understanding IEEE 802.11.
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