Back & Forth

3:15 PM -- It’s the time of year when people look back as well as forward, and I’m no different. I was recently thinking back to 1991, when I started Farpoint Group. Someone had asked me why I got into wireless, and the answer was a little involved. But I’ve reduced it to two simple observations.

The first of these is that mobile people with mobile computers need mobile networks. Few of us like being cooped up in the office all day, and many of us in fact still like to travel. But we need to stay connected to information resources when we’re out and about, and mobile computers (on the rise but not well established in 1991) are now the preferred vehicle. But so is the need for mobile access to the Internet and the Web; there are arguably a lot more important than the PC. Indeed, as I’ve noted before, I think the PC is doomed as we move to a fully Web-centric computing environment. Make that a mobile, Web-centric computing environment, and I think we’ll all be very, very happy. The second element is the continuing impact of very large scale integration (VLSI). I reasoned, in 1991, that VLSI would eventually play the same role in wireless as it had in microprocessors, and it has. We’ve been able to take amazing complex technology like MIMO/OFDM, the basis of every major commercial wireless system going forward, and reduce it to a small number of cheap, reliable, high-performance chips.

And there’s no end in sight for these two trends. Wireless will remain an innovative, exciting field for at least five more years, which is pretty much the limit of my forecasting horizon. I can’t wait for next year -- .11n (for real), WiMax, wireless USB, EVDO Rev A, and much more. In the meantime, all the best to you for the holidays and the New Year, and we’ll pick this up again in January.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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