IBM Aims to Bring Order to Chaotic Wi-Fi Revolution

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2004-12-02 Print this article Print

Executives leading IBM's wireless technology initiatives say the company is ready to help customers deal with the chaos that arises from dealing with the explosive demand for Wi-Fi access.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—IBMs goal in the burgeoning Wi-Fi industry is to help customers deal with the chaos arising from the explosive growth in demand for Wi-Fi access, said James Keegan, IBMs vice president for Global Pervasive/Wireless e-business solutions. Speaking at Jupitermedia Corp.s Wi-Fi Planet conference here, Keegan said that to help make pervasive wireless computing a reality the computer industry has to work through the "chaos" arising from the challenge of integrating the diverse technologies required to slake the insatiable demand for new wireless services.
People around the world want to implement a dizzying array of wireless applications, including everything from Wi-Fi on high-speed commuter trains to having Wi-Fi Internet access along with their lattes at Starbucks Coffee.
The problem is not that the technology isnt available to create these applications, Keegan said. The problem is that system architects havent completely thought out how to assemble all the components that will support wireless applications that are reliable, effective and secure, he said. "Our objective is to help you address these challenges and address the chaos," Keegan said. However, IBM doesnt pretend to have all the answers. It will take a diverse "ecosystem" of software, hardware and middleware producers to bring all the pieces together, he said. Click here to read why David Cohen, founder of the Wi-Fi Alliance, believes that Wi-Fi is ready for adoption in enterprises. Both consumers and the industry are trying to move toward the same goals, Keegan noted. They want nationwide Wi-Fi coverage with roaming capabilities just as they have with their cell phones. National media companies like Time-Warner Inc. and many other enterprises are looking for new ways "to deliver more content down to end users whether it is entertainment or in a pure data processing environment," he said. The users of a wide array of new devices, whether it is cell phones, handheld computers, laptops or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) devices, are competing for access and bandwidth on Wi-Fi networks. A major new wireless device is introduced in the market every six weeks, Keegan observed. And an emerging "wireless generation" wants to download everything from cell phone ring tones to movies, television shows and games. Computer users want nothing less than the ability to gravitate to a public Wi-Fi access point that provides "all you can eat" data access wherever and whenever they want, he said. Next Page: Making pervasive wireless a reality.

John Pallatto John Pallatto is's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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