Report on the Wireless East 2002 Expo by Eric Heinen

 

The Wireless East 2002 Expo at the New YorkJavitz Center was awash in immaturity.By this I do not mean that the general population of the show floor was wearing knickers and enjoying lollipops, I mean I was witnessing the initial stage of a new paradigm shift in the Age of Technology.†† The theme was consistent but the business models were varied, from general consumer based technology such as a PDA GPS (Global Positioning System) from Pharos called Pocket GPS Navigator to complete M.A.S.P(Mobile Application Service Provider) systems like the solutions offered by MobileSys and iConverse.

There were roughly 50 exhibitors taking up one of the larger rooms. Microsoft was the largest of the booths with a full multimedia experience including a 75-inch video screen and plenty of booth attendants.Other notable larger players included Compaq, Sybase iAnywhere solutions, Verizon, and GoAmerica.Though the focus was on the M.A.S.P there were many end user booths to keep the personal user happy, like the Mobile Planet booth, which offered free demonstrations of wireless PDA cards, GPS systems and PDA phones. All of which were available for a special show only discount, of course.

Several vendors offered wireless lan technologies, another hot topic due to the push towards a mobile lan worker.Bluetooth was a topic of many conversations in this area, this short range technology (33ft range) uses the unlicensed 2.4 Ghz radio range at 20 times the speed of a dial up connection.It creates a bubble around the user by using channel hopping technology which automatically creates a mini network with any other Bluetooth enabled devices in the area.

The M.A.S.Pís offered such services as translation services (conversion of web content to wireless networks), Wireless Application services (data delivery), M-Services (translated and delivered through the wireless network), and Infrastructure and services (software, hardware, consulting and custom implementation) which are being provided over a medium that is only a few years old.These solutions are closely related by their infrastructure.Each basically integrates with existing database software, pulls information, converts/translates data for smaller form factor viewing, sends it via wireless through a secure connection over one of their partnership portal providers (AT&T/Sprint etcÖ) to any handheld data device.

With wireless users topping 112 million in the U.S,we have the largest wireless using population in the world and the phase we are presently in is being referred to 2.5G(GPRS/General Packet Radio Service). This allows for the flow of data between wireless devices from roughly 20k to 40k bit/sec depending on your service provider. These speeds are adequate for SMS(Short Messaging Service) and limited interactive browsing but little else.

The next generation, 3G(2M bit/sec), is currently being offered in Several European countries. In Japan a company called DoCoMo has already rolled out its 3G network called F.R.O.M.A(Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access)but it has had limited success due to the limited coverage, recent recession, high cost of a new phones and the current 'cost to perceived value' ratio.The United States is still 2-3 years away from rolling out this technology, which will allow data transfers 200 times faster than todayís wireless speeds.But these realities have not stopped the push to be ready for the next advantage.

This is evident by the International corporate IT industry spending an average of $680,000 on wireless applications in 2002, a 94% increase over 2001. With the Global Wireless IT benchmark Report stating that 51% of companies surveyed are increasing their wireless budget and none planning a decrease, there is definitely more money to be made in this arena.Itís that fact which will push the wireless technology curve along until the next great disruptive technology is created.

Wireless may be considered a business advantage today but within the next couple of years it will be a business necessity.