Wireless networking, once only used by the very tech savvy, is becoming increasingly mainstream.
People who can’t figure out how to set the clock on their VCR are using laptops to surf the Web from hotspots in coffee shops.
Many teenagers can’t imagine a world without SMS messages.
Over the last few years, email has become something that millions of people don’t want to go without when they are away from a regular computer.
These developments have made me consider the direction that wireless networking is going.
Acronym, Acronym, Who’s Got the Acronym?
I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out which wireless networking standard would come out on top. Will it be WiMax? Or EV-DO? What about HSDPA?
Finally, it hit me: There won’t be any one winner. We’ll have plenty of options.
However, in the end, it won’t really matter which one you choose, because all of them will be pretty much alike. They will all be faster than cable or DSL service is today, handle both voice and data, and — for the vast majority of people — not be free.
To Pay or Not To Pay
I know this is bad news to those of you who are hoping to someday hook a WiMax access point up to your home network and have free wireless access wherever you go, but it’s not going to work like that. WiMax equipment is going to cost far more than WiFi equipment does.
Besides which, you aren’t going to want to. For about the same amount you pay for Cable or DSL now, you’ll have high-speed wireless access that works anywhere you go.
Yes, there will be places that will give away WiMax access. But these will mostly be small towns trying to use the lure of free, unlimited access to the Internet to keep their young people from heading off to the big city.
A Simpler Future
Right now, many people pay three different companies for Internet access, and two different companies for phone service.
They pay an ISP for access at home, they pay a wireless carrier for Internet access on their handheld or smartphone, and they subscribe to a service that gives them WiFi access when they are traveling.
They also have both a cell phone bill and another for their home phone.
Clearly, this is just ridiculous.
In the coming years, you’ll pay just one company that will let you wirelessly access the Internet — and make phone calls — wherever you go.
Unlike today’s wireless networking standards, this will be so fast you won’t feel a need for a wired connection to the Net, even on your home PC. And it will work whether you are in your back yard or Peoria.
I for one would much rather pay one bill than three or four. Especially when it will be cheaper.