Making wireless pervasive

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

However companies, municipalities and industries that are actively working to implement Wi-Fi on a broad scale are also helping to make pervasive wireless a reality. For example, the Hong Kong railway system came to IBM looking for a way to implement wireless Internet access on its commuter trains, Keegan said. Metro Stores, a German supermarket chain, is using RFID technology to track goods as they leave the store shelves. Each one of these early applications helps prove the practicality of Wi-Fi technology and will help make pervasive wireless a reality, Keegan said.
There are several market forces at work driving the demand for wireless broadband services, said Chris Couper, IBMs chief technology officer for wireless solutions.
Chief among them in the United States is that the federal government has endorsed broadband wireless to promote economic, educational and social development. President Bush in particular has "pegged wireless broadband as one of the key technologies" that will help drive future economic groups. Click here to read what one New Mexico city is doing to give all its residents Wi-Fi Internet access. Its not just cell phones and computers that are sucking up bandwidth. Sensors that record a wide range of data are going to be communicating via wireless networks in the years ahead, he said. While there may be millions of PC users and billions of cell phones in use worldwide, there is a potential for literally trillions of sensors to being put to work to track the performance of a wide range of machines or electronic devices. These sensors will be smart enough to detect problems and record the status of the systems they monitor. They will also act to fix the problem and "will only tell the back-end systems what they achieved rather than what they did" to resolve the problem, he said. Wireless will become pervasive because an ever increasing number of people will constantly be looking for ways to wirelessly log onto the Internet wherever they are. They want to log on in virtually any public space, whether they are traveling, on a business or school campus, or are effectively "held captive" in what Couper called a "wall garden"—a convention center, train, plane or automobile where they have no choice but to stay in one place for perhaps hours at a time. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

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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