Journal: News & Comment

Friday, December 06, 2002
# 10:52:00 AM:

Things move fast around here

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[UPDATE 3:43:12 PM: The man from Paricom apparently thought the article was new, from November 2002 instead of 2001, which explains his confusion. He also plans to note wireless Internet services on their Web site.]

The Vice-President of Communications for Paricom, Inc. in Iowa read my article "Which Way Wireless" (PDF file) in LINK magazine and had the following comments:

Your article titled "Which Way Wireless" by Derek Miller is outdated and misleading. In Council Bluffs we are using 802.11a technology over 5 miles and are getting 30 Mps throughput on a 45Mbs system. Technology is available to go 7 miles with Gigabit speeds. Not only is bandwidth available, but security issues are being resolved with 3DES encryption, and proper network design can provide reliability better than "land lines." We are using the "self-healing" design for wireless networks, that provide redundant links to the customer site.

We also have a company that provides "High Speed Internet" access on a wireless system for $30/Month for users that cannot get DSL or Cable Modem service in rural areas.

He's quite right. The article he mentions certainly is outdated -- it was published over a year ago -- and given the changes in the wireless marketplace, anyone using it to understand the current state of things would indeed be misled. They would also be misled by an article that described the World Trade Center towers as two of New York's most identifiable current landmarks. But they still were when I wrote "Which Way Wireless."

Because of lead times in magazine publishing, I wrote it in the late summer of 2001, and it appeared in November of that year. The first consumer-level 802.11a products only became available after I wrote the piece, and while I was making short-term forecasts, I was also discussing dedicated wide-area wireless technologies rather than wireless LAN technologies being adapted to wide-area use.

In the summer of 2001, few predicted that wireless Ethernet like Wi-Fi or Apple's AirPort, or offshoots like warchalking (which didn't exist then), would become so widespread and encroach on the wireless Internet turf of cellular phone carriers. And I'm not nearly as smart as people who work in the wireless field for a living or make a full-time wage sniffing out tech trends, so I certainly didn't predict it.

Even so, my last paragraph gives me a bit of a weaselly way out:

More grassroots are home and business users of the IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN standard (used by the D-Link Air line of products) who band together to create underground wireless networks totally separate from the cellular system, with current maximum speeds of 11 Mbps. These local wide-area networks may mount a serious challenge to cellular data providers, especially with faster networking coming soon.

"Faster networking coming soon" over IEEE 802.11 sounds a lot like what my reader described, so maybe I wasn't too far off the mark after all.

Wireless carriers have indeed rolled out GPRS and 1x CDMA services, as I thought (they're sure hyping them in their new phones, Treos, etc., at least here in Canada), and EDGE/UMTS are still apparently on the way. I didn't get all the predictive specifics right, but I think I did okay.

I also noticed that Paricom's Web site doesn't mention any of its excellent wireless options in its Internet Connectivity section. Given the neat stuff their VP describes, it would be a good idea to put some info there.

By the way, I think my other article from that issue of LINK, "Taming the E-mail Monster" (PDF file), is even more out of date, since more effective algorithm-based spam filtering has become available in the past year, even as spam has gotten much worse. The tips I gave there are still useful, but you need much more to combat spam today than you did in 2001, unfortunately.


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