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The Guns of November

6:00 PM -- I’m reading The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman's splendid history of the summer of 1914 and the onset of World War I, and I couldn't help thinking a couple of times of the book -- and the grand display of saber-rattling, chicanery, and diplomatic two-stepping that led the European powers into disaster -- during the Mobile Business Expo conference this week.

Not that the assembled wireless vendors (and the IT managers attending) are on the brink of war or anything, but after a couple of panels, the pressroom interviews with individual gearmakers and service providers were a good deal less consensus-filled, as it were, than the agreeable discussions on the dais.

That was especially true of the fixed/mobile convergence confab on Thursday morning, at which all of the discussants agreed that some version of convergence (particularly the integration of WiFi and cellular networks) is on the immediate horizon, but each disagreed politely, but firmly, in private about just how the industry will accomplish these technological leapfrogs, not to mention who's going to actually make money on it.

The upcoming announcement by Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN) on its roadmap to full ubiquity and interlocking of networks (i.e., one device that can transmit voice and data everywhere over any type of connection) by 2008 -- well, maybe 2010 -- includes, for instance, a significant, if modest, first step: a method for handing off calls made over your on-premises wireless LAN to the cellular network when you step outdoors. Asked if this would work going the the other way (from cell-to-WiFi), though, Aruba product manager Peter Thornycroft said... not exactly.

"We don't actually see great demand for transferring calls seamlessly in the other direction," he explained, like a French general explaining why the German scorched-earth march through Belgium was a mere divertissement.

Hey, it's a start.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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