The Wireless Future Considerations
While wireless communication is experiencing fast evolution, the fixed network has been going toward B-ISDN with ATM concept. ATM offers data rates that are considerably higher than current fixed network services. Interworking with ATM will set extremely hard requirements on the wireless air interface, but hopefully continued development in technology will enable the industry to manufacture smaller and less power-consuming terminals with increased performance and functionality.
The prediction of the future is always uncertain, but it can be assumed that frequencies under 2GHz remain mainly for mobile communications where only low-bit-rate services are offered (both data and speech). In this case, connections requiring close to 2Mbps or more will need to be moved on to the higher frequencies. The possible choices at the moment seem to be around 5.2GHz and 17.1GHz.
The successful introduction of wireless ATM is strongly related to the success of ATM/B-ISDN in wired networks. If ATM/B-ISDN networks are to be a commercial success, wireless ATM could be seen not as today's technology, but as inevitable development of near future.
The fact that most enterprises today have become a complex web of wireline and wireless service providers, providing both voice and data services to the end user at home, in the office, and while walking or driving down the street needs to be considered in any telecommunications policy initiative. The new wave of wireless service providers, while providing the consumer with more choices in services and features than ever before, presents a challenge to the public policymaker who tries to determine how to ensure that telecommunications services are made available to the broadest range of consumers. Competition will take care of that, to a certain extent. However, where appropriate, government may need to step in on issues such as interconnection rights, mutual compensation, and numbering to ensure that new entrants are treated as equals by incumbent carriers. Furthermore, revision of universal service and enhanced 911 policies needs to take into consideration both the wireless and the wireline industries.
Additionally, the wireless industry is often faced with federal and state regulatory processes that can slow down the deployment of new networks. Federal guidelines regarding site acquisition and radio frequency emissions are necessary to ensure timely availability of new services. There continues to be a high demand for wireless services, and the industry is poised to meet that demand. However, public policy should be developed such that the promise of wireless services as an integral component of the enterprise is realized.
Finally, the wireless LAN can be very useful. To connect to a traditional wired LAN, a user must plug his or her computer into a wall or a floor LAN outlet. Wireless LANs' portability and compatibility with all operating systems make it an ideal choice for office intranets and the enterprise. The 802.11 standard promises to give enterprises more control over wireless infrastructures, thus resulting in the blossoming of more and more wireless LANs in many offices.
Today, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) makes available a new spectrum for wireless networks that will support a range of new services, both voice and data, wireless communications are poised on the brink of a new era. However, new spectrum leads to new entrants, and wireless enterprises of the future will face a much more competitive marketplace. This competition will mean great things to the American consumer, who will benefit from the innovation and lower prices that the increased competitiveness will spark. Thus, with the introduction of more competition into the telecommunications marketplace, public policy decisions need to be crafted to ensure that this vision of a wireless future can be realized.