My field of expertise is wireless communications. In the past, I’ve hardly ever mentioned the subject in this space. Recently, though, I’ve been read a number of stories about professionals who use their weblogs as a place to track and comment upon trends in their fields. I have no current plans to convert this weblog to all wireless, all the time, but I thought I would start linking to and commenting on relevant stories from time to time.
Before I link to the two wireless stories in this morning’s NY Times, though, I should make a disclaimer. My “expertise” in wireless networks is purely academic. I have no experience designing equipment for use “in the field” and I have no experience operating or maintaining a large wireless communications system. My views on the subject, then, come straight from the ivory tower. Obviously, I think that the work done within academia is valuable when applied to practice; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. But I have no illusions that the world is as simple and straightforward as the models that I use to represent it.
That having been said, there are two articles on wireless in this morning’s NY Times. The first is about the growing complaints about the unreliability of cellular telephone service. The second is about the wireless internet boom.
There are a great many things about these two articles which are interesting to me. I’ll be brief today, but hope to explore some of these topics in more detail in the future…
- First, the contrast between the two articles is interesting. At the same time that cellular companies are unable to keep up with the demands of voice traffic on their networks, they and others are rolling out data services which have the potential to be much more bandwidth intensive.
- There are fundamental limits on the amount of bandwidth which can be provided over the wireless channel.
- Exciting new technologies will help us make better use of available bandwidth, though. Two of the most promising, directional beamforming and mesh networks, were mentioned in the second article.
- An important question is whether or not people are willing to pay for these new services. In an age of cheap internet access, most people have grown up thinking that data is free. This is not a good thing if you are trying to make a buck.
I’ve got plenty more to say, but it will have to wait. Time to get to work!