CNET tells the wireless story in five easy lessons:
- If there is one ray of hope amid the gloom that has cloaked the digital economy, it could be summed up with one word: wireless.
What began as a pet project for technophiles has become a multibillion-dollar industry, with uses ranging from untethered computers in the home to major networking connections for telecommunications giants. More than 35 million wireless networks are in operation today, according to industry estimates, and the number is growing daily.
As with all new technologies, however, these networks involve a trade-off–in this case, in the form of security. While wireless products remain relatively inexpensive, the specter of government regulation looms over companies and consumers who have enjoyed free access to date.
Growth: Cities try to cash in
Municipalities are supporting wireless networks in the hopes of reinvigorating downtown business–and, in some areas, create an opportunity to charge for access.
Telecom: Is Wi-Fi the missing link?
While not a panacea, wireless technology offers a temporary solution to the age-old “last mile” infrastructure problem caused by a scarcity of fiber in metropolitan areas.
Safety: Open networks pose dilemma
A lack of security has not stunted the wireless rush so far, but the industry knows it needs to increase protection for the technology to become universal.
Hardware: Everyone joins the party
Today’s wireless networks are usually associated with laptop computers, but companies are preparing to use Wi-Fi technology to link everything from TVs to cell phones.
Standards: Truce pays off for rivals [tomorrow] Wireless technology has been able to proliferate quickly for one important reason: Companies have finally learned to avoid costly battles over industry specifications.