Wireless communication, now and the future

The Economist's recent 'Technology Quarterly' contains a useful round-up of wireless computer networking technologies that may threaten the coming 3G cellphone networks. Four technologies are discussed: smart antennas that effectively increase the capacity of an antenna site; "mesh networks" of users acting as signal relay points, around a central high-speed radio-based net access point; ad hoc systems of possibly mobile users who could act as a local communication network (for example, in remote areas); and ultra-wideband transmission that uses millions of bursts of information a second to send large amount of information over (currently) short distances.

The future aside, it's hard to keep up with what's happening this week in the world of wireless Internet access. This Business Week article is good on the current state of wireless networking and how it threatens the business model of internet service providers, Clay Shirky catchily likening it to the effects of Napster on the music industry (via Boing Boing). With impeccable timing, the New York Times has a story (via everyone!) on Time Warner Cable warning customers not to create public wireless access points. Canopy (via Boing Boing) is a US$30,000 transmitter that can give wireless net access to everyone within a two mile radius -- ideal for small communities, and not unlike what this community in Georgia, USA has just done (via Telecom-cities).

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