WiFi got a major boost this year with Intels launch of the Centrino backed by a continuing multi-million dollar global campaign. The cost of access points has fallen rapidly and wireless technologies continue to improve. Wireless networks are also coming from the cellular providers via 2.5G and 3G, and CDMA technologies. We are entering an era of near-ubiquitous wireless Internet access. Even in India, it is possible to use the cellphone (from Reliance Infocomm) as a modem to connect to the Internet and get data speeds of between 30-100 Kbps in over 600 cities.
Wrote Business Week recently: Faster networks have turned tablet PCs and laptops into wireless devices. They’ve also allowed handset makers to roll out new gadgets such as smart phones, a cross between a phone and a personal digital assistant (PDA). Unlike today’s dumb phones, these devices include an operating system (OS) — the software that runs the basic functions of a computer — and the processing power and memory that PCs had a decade ago Surveys of chief information officers show that mobile applications and networking are at the top of many corporate tech departments’ software shopping lists. And consumers are waking up to this new opportunity as well — turning on to wireless applications such as fancy ring-tones, text messaging, and games.
2004: WiFi hotspots will proliferate, with telcos worldwide looking at get into the business. Chips that will combine access to WiFi and cellular networks will create a new class of devices. The action will also revolve around faster, better wireless networks. Smart Antennas, Mesh Networks and Agile Radios are technologies to look forward to in the future, according to Business Week. RFIDs are another area of action, as Wal-mart drives its vendors to start using chips in products to enable tracking.
3. Spam, Viruses and Security
2003 was the year in which the vulnerability of our digital lives was all too apparent. The deadly combination of spam and viruses is creating havoc with the application that defines much of our live email. It is little wonder then that the security of devices and networks has emerged as the area that is most engaging minds worldwide.
2003 saw spam skyrocket and flood our Inbox. Various viruses targeted home users vulnerable to attacks, even as enterprises secured themselves with gateway security servers. While anti-virus software screens viruses at the perimeter or the desktop and spam filters use Bayesian technologies to learn, the one thing that is clear is that a small part of our day will be dedicated to cleaning up the junk that we receive.
2004: Expect spams and viruses to target instant messaging and cellphones. The openness of the Internet will be reduced somewhat as organisations seek to plug gaps. Email protocols will need to evolve to limit unauthorised mail senders. So, even as the volume of email increases, so will the restrictions on who can communicate with us. Security appliances will proliferate into homes and small businesses along with always-on connections.
Tomorrow: Offshoring, VoIP