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technologies continue to evolve
various wireless technologies continue to evolve around
the world, it will be the usefulness of content and applications,
interoperable standards, and user acceptance that decide
you ever yearned to have access to all kinds of information
e-mail, databases, news, stock quotes, and company reports
from your car, without a desktop computer? Wireless technology
makes this possible. We are already beginning to see such
applications. Wireless Technologies are for people who are
always on the move and yet want to stay connected. With
the Internet being widely accepted by society, access to
data sources while on the move is a growing trend. As Anirudh
Mathuria, President, India Operations, Celstream Technologies
puts it, "The need for geographical freedom prompted
the convergence between wireless and computing leading to
the emergence of Wireless technologies".
The established wireless technologies include:
802.11: An IEEE wireless standard used to manage
packet traffic over a network.
Bluetooth: A short-range wireless specification that
allows for radio connections between devices within a 30-foot
(10 meter) radius.
TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access): This protocol
allows a large number of users to access one radio frequency
by allocating time slots for use to multiple voice or data
GPRS (General Packet Radio Service): A technology
that sends packets of data across a wireless network at
speeds of up to 114Kbps.
I-Mode: A wildly popular service in Japan for transferring
packet-based data to handheld devices. I-Mode is based on
a compact version of HTML and does not use WAP.
WAP: WAP is a set of protocols that lets users of
mobile phones and other digital wireless devices access
Internet content, check voice mail and e-mail, and conduct
Wireless LAN: Uses radio frequency technology to
transmit network messages through the air for relatively
short distances, like across an office.
3G (third-generation): An industry term used to describe
the next, still-to-come generation of wireless applications.
The third generation expands the digital premise by bringing
high-speed connections and increasing reliability.
Wireless technologies are in the evolving phase worldwide,
as issues related to legal and commercial aspects still
need to be resolved. "There are various standards that
are competing to get their own foothold in the wireless
space, hence the real impact will be three to four years
down the line when technology matures and standards interoperate",
2G technology prevails around the world, but now various
2G technologies are attempting to migrate to 3G standards.
"3G network trials are currently going on in Japan
and high bandwidth data services based on 3G are scheduled
for launch by October 2001", informs Subrat Kanungo,
Manager Networks and NT strategy, Texas Instruments. He
further adds that 3G services in the rest of the globe are
currently not commercially deployed since it involves significant
Another hot technology is GPRS, a packet-switched technology,
which is in advanced stages of trial and initial deployment
in Western Europe.
This technology supports voice services and to some extent
very basic data services like WAP and SMS. While SMS has
succeeded to a large extent as an application standard,
WAP has come in for a beating because of poor performance
and low acceptance.
India, the GSM-900 technology has been dominant in the cellular
network, though operators in Mumbai and Delhi are conducting
some trials on GPRS", says Deepak Padaki, Head Mobile
Research group, Infosys Technologies. Commenting on wireless
in the enterprise, Deepak adds, "The 802.11 standard
has received a lot of attention in 2001 and products are
now available from several vendors for wireless LANs, though
security remains an important issue. On the other hand Bluetooth
applications are not yet widely available, though the underlying
chipsets, hardware and firmware are finally seeing the light
For a mobile workforce
Wireless can be a "dream come true" for the mobile
workforce with high performance connections and complete
mobility and flexibility in an organization. At present
these users are from the large and small/medium enterprises.
Says Srikanta Prasad, Senior Network Consultant, Enterasys
Networks, "As the market for wireless data equipment
increases, there will be a reduction in equipment costs
and an improvement in wireless products and technologies,
thereby making the technology feasible for mass usage and
high volume sales". Logically, the wireless applications
that will succeed are those that address issues of urgency,
personalisation and relevance. Healthcare (doctor services),
financial (banking and stock trading), travel and community
development (communications) are potential application areas.
Explaining how the healthcare industry could benefit, Anirudh
says, "Hospitals see wireless as a necessary technology
for mobile doctors, nurses and patients, and as an alternative
to the time and trouble it takes to wire hospital wards.
As more medical records are stored electronically, it becomes
imperative to provide a
pervasive and flexible way to access records. With a laptop
and a wireless network card, surgeons and other hospital
personnel can now access this information from anywhere".
Explaining the use of wireless LANs in corporations, Jangoo
Dalal, VP, Enterprise Sales, Cisco, India, says, "As
corporates adapt flexible work-hours and work places, and
with the increase in remote working culture wireless might
be just the antidote for jaded employees, and cramped workplace
Much development will occur in the wireless technology segment
but it will be some time before the end user can feel the
impact. SMS on mobile phones is one application that has
been accepted. Major developments are expected in the data
capability of 3G systems to enable wireless operators to
offer rich content like digital photos and MP3 downloads,
things that are now possible on a wired network.
Adds Deepak, "Over the next 2-3 years, we will see
the growth of wireless data services through 2.5G technologies
and the exploration of data applications. Bluetooth and
Wireless LAN will become more widely deployed in the home
and enterprise markets respectively". For wireless
data, organisations today are still pondering the most optimal
technologies to deploy and what services or applications
they would like to "m-enable". M-Commerce as a
paradigm will take a while to kick-in, primarily because
of a half-baked business model involving the enterprise,
operator, service provider and content provider. Also issues
related to legality and technologies are likely to get resolved
and hence make way for the acceptance of wireless technology.
Wireless in India
is no doubt that India has world-class wireless networks
and the other advantage is that the entire country is covered
by a single standard, GSM 900, which is not the case in
many other big countries worldwide. This offers unique benefits
for operators to support countrywide mobility", complements
Deepak. The subscriber base for cellular services is growing
at a lightning speed, with 90 percent growth recorded last
Wireless data services in India will not take off until
more relevant content is available. Even the Internet revolution
failed to generate sufficient local content in India, and
this is important if we want mobile data services to be
widespread. With consolidation amongst Indian operators,
we hope to see more innovative services being available
to Indian subscribers.
Mahesh Rathod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org