Wireless, wireless everywhere

Voice over IP, EV-DO, mobile Wi-Max and HSDPA. Getting a handle on all these acronyms is a challenge for anyone in the IT industry.

“All these [terms] seem overwhelming with different types of competing technologies but when you dive into it, they’ve been designed for the purpose of [one thing]: Internet everywhere,” said Abner Germanow, a research analyst with IDC.

Germanow was speaking at Nortel Networks first virtual Web conference called “Building the Mobile Enterprise” held last month via webcast.

The reality is, Germanow said, there are different kinds of mobile Internet connections available and enterprises should look at adopting different wireless technologies to enable users, employees and partners to access information regardless of where they happen to be.

“Wireless is moving from a secondary mode of connectivity to primary,” he said.

What types of technology fit into this wireless world?

Germanow answered those technologies would include WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), third generation (3G) wireless networks, Wi-Max and a mesh between WLAN and Wi-Max.

Mark Whitton, vice-president and general manager of Nortel wireless and Wi-Max says there is going to a revolution happening in next few years with these technologies.

“In the mid ‘80s the focus was on how to bring mobile voice to the people. The initial prediction was the market would be small…[but] it turns out it is more popular and has overtaken fixed telephony,” Whitton says.

He added the same can be said of the Internet with more people now using a broadband WLAN connection.

“People are addicted to it at work [so now the question is] how do you deliver that broadband experience wherever you are?” asks Whitton.

This is where 3G, Wi-Max and mesh networks enter the picture. he said. Those networks will let the mobile worker check their data, e-mail and whatever needs to get done for work as wireless covers more areas and takes advantage of low cost technology built into almost every device.

Even as these wireless technologies are starting to take hold, the industry is ever evolving with new standards and technologies such as 802.11n for WLAN.

Germanow said consumer products with 802.11n will emerge first in late 2006. The enterprise space will see 802.11n products about 6 months later.

“The big bonus enterprises will get with 802.11n is a much more reliable connectivity than 802.11a,b,g as well as increased range,” says Germanow.

Whitton says the interesting thing about 802.11n is that it implements OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing), which Whitton calls the latest and greatest in radio technology, and MIMO (multi input and multi output). He says both OFDM and MIMO allow for the transmission of more information over a wireless network.

As well, Whitton says, OFDM and MIMO will play a key role when 4G networks starts to emerge in about four years.

“CDMA has run its course. We have done everything we can do on it. GSM-based networks and CDMA-based networks need to move to OFDM and MIMO,” Whitton says.

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