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Unstrung's Five Hot Technologies for 2007

Dan Jones
12/29/2006

The year 2007 will see several much-hyped wireless technologies make the jump from slideware to the real world. Most of you already know about WiMax's prospects for next year, so Unstrung decided to highlight some radio waves less traveled for its rundown of hot technology for 2007.

Ultra-wideband: After years of hype, UWB looks like it could actually matter in 2007. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just started to approve high-speed, short-range "cable replacement" wireless products using UWB chipsets that can transfer data at speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s over several feet. UWB also has more industry backing than before since it is the radio muscle behind both the "Bluetooth 2" and "Wireless USB" specifications. It is easy to imagine that Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and others may also look at UWB as a way of speeding up the wireless transfer of multimedia between portable MP3 and video players and a home PC in future generations of such devices.(See UWB: Hot Chips?.)

Fixed/Mobile Convergence: It's 2007 or bust for fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) services. Handsets that can support both cellular and WiFi connections are finally starting to be widely available. Carriers such as BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and T-Mobile US Inc. have launched FMC services and other carriers are testing the technologies. Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) remains the key technology behind early FMC, although other systems such as that offered by DiVitas Networks Inc. could still make a splash in the enterprise market. (See The Year of Calling Convergedly.)

Cellphone Security: Cellphone virus protection and security software will become a bigger issue next year. There has already been plenty of evidence of smartphone operating systems, such as the Symbian Ltd. OS, being targeted and there is talk of malicious code being spread via Bluetooth connections. So expect to see more smartphone security software on the market next year in a bid to address these mobile worries. (See Device Lockdown and The Blue Flu?.)

Business Buddies: The mildly creepy practice of mapping your friends's locations using GPS has started to become popular in the consumer market via offerings from Boost Mobile and Helio Inc. Unstrung expects that such buddy tracking applications could spread to the enterprise market over the course of 2007. Naturally, GPS and other cellular tracking mechanisms aren't accurate enough to get a reasonable fix on workers indoors. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Newbury Networks and others, however, have appliances that can triangulate a WiFi radio's position reasonably accurately and with more and more devices getting on the WiFi bandwagon it is soon going to be easier to know when you've left your cube for a little 'me' time. (See In Depth: Real-Time Location Services.) CDMA Rev C: It may seem early to talk about CDMA Ev-DO Revision C as a technology that will matter in 2007 -- after all Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Verizon Wireless are just starting to deploy Rev A networks. But it will become important from a marketing perspective later in 2007. Consider the fact that Sprint and now Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) are planning a move to mobile WiMax late in 2007 and throughout 2008. Unless Verizon goes on a wireless bandwidth buying spree it doesn't have suitable spectrum to follow them down the WiMax path. So talking up the capabilities of the 280-Mbit/s OFDM-based Rev C could start to make sense as faster mobile WiMax rolls around. (See Yay! More Acronyms!)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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