From The Editor

There can be no doubt that wireless technologies are having a profound impact on Western World culture, lifestyle and business practices. One only needs to take a stroll near a mall, busy city street or an office tower to see some sort of wireless device being utilized.

In just a few short years, society has come to accept the sight of a person talking into a small device, oblivious to the rest of the world rushing by them. We’ve come to accept that business can be carried out in the strangest of places, thanks in large part to wireless technology.

What we’ve seen so far, however, is really only the tip of the untethered technology iceberg. While many of the capabilities currently being built into cell phones and personal digital assistants, for example, are wondrous to many of their users (such as the ability to surf the Web from a mobile device), these developments pale in comparison to what lies on the horizon.

Canada’s federal government recently concluded an auction for spectrum that will enable service providers to offer an array of new, advanced communication services, typically known as 2.5-generation (2.5G) wireless services. It is a significant step towards a situation which has already begun to manifest itself in other parts of the world, such as Europe and East Asia: third-generation (3G) services.

While the 2.5G services that will soon begin to appear in this country will be a noticeable improvement to what we can do today across wireless networks, it is the 3G services that hold the most promise. The ability to transmit video and other robust forms of communication could be the ticket for wireless networks becoming, in the eyes of the enterprise, a serious alternative to traditional landline communication.

But therein lies another fundamental wireless world question that remains unanswered: is this type of communication going to find success in the consumer market or the business arena, or both? Clearly, there is opportunity for manufacturers and service providers in both markets, but on which side will the primary focus be placed?

With a U.S. economy that appears to be shifting from fifth to third gear, and with that shift threatening to affect the Canadian economy, will the average enterprise deem wireless gadgets with limited capabilities a luxury and strike them from their shopping list, or will improvements to the technologies force businesses to consider them as a viable communication alternative?

Only time will tell, but hopefully the articles in this Network World Canada Signature Series will help in making the wireless future a little less uncertain.

– Greg Enright