Real Wireless, Real World

Underneath the hype, wireless technologies have finally grown up.

If we read one more story about how great and wonderful Bluetooth will be, or how 3G will transform the PDA/cell-phone world, were going to hurl. Bluetooth doesnt work. 3G is years away. Wireless has more hype than Jennifer Lopez has admirers. But underneath the overhyped pitches, real wireless technology, with real business applications and profits, has come of age.

Even with the working technologies, youll need to tune carefully. Take 802.11b. Theyll tell you that it can run at 11Mbps. Yes, and I can run 22 miles per hour—if Im pulled by a car. Wireless performance claims tend to be even more exaggerated than printer vendors page-per-minute boasts.

When selling any wireless solution, be certain to test it out yourself. Use your results instead of the manufacturers numbers when youre making your pitch. Better still, test out the devices at the customers site before making any performance claims. Interference from wireless phones and microwave ovens in the 2.4GHz range can wreak havoc on bandwidth. Also, the right combination of walls and elevators can knock any wireless technologys purported range down to a fraction of its theoretical maximum.

With that in mind, these four technologies—BlackBerry, Ricochet, OmniSky and 802.11b—can help your customers do their business, and help you earn a profit in yours.