The Need for Speed
Michael Sciannamea, writing over at the wi-fi weblog reports on a speech that Paul Marino gave at WiCon World this week. Paul is the vice president and general manager of Philips Semiconductor's business line connectivity division. Marino complains "...that the wireless industry is adding too many standards to existing technologies instead of fixing their inherent problems." The original article appears over at CommsDesign.
There is certainly no question that the pace of innovation in the wireless space is currently moving at breakneck (break network?) speed -- with or without standards. The Register recently reported on a 2.1 Mbps Bluetooth standard. Fierce Wireless (as reported in the unofficial bluetooth weblog had a recent rundown on Wi-Fi, ZigBee, UWB, Bluetooth, and NFC. Over at Wi-Fi Planet they are talking about MIMO, Advanced IP Pipeline has the latest on 802.11n (another name for MIMO) and of course there is the buzz around WiMAX.
So does Paul have a point? Should we stop the insanity, tell all the standards writers to go home, and make the stuff we have now work? The problem with this theory is that it assumes that the wireless standards we have now are capable of doing what we want them to do. But we are barely there. Wireless is playing catch-up with the expectations set by broadband. Wi-Fi has taken off for exactly this reason -- it supports access speeds equivalent to those that we have grown used to through ADSL and cable modem access. The consumer experience of networking is defined by speed -- regardless of whether the connection is wired or unwired. The new standards are seeking to catch wireless up to wired speeds in other venues -- 802.11n for example seeks to deliver speeds we expect in our workplace.
Of course new fixed line standards such as Uni-DSL will alter those consumer perceptions again. At 200 mbps, there will be good reasons to have fixed line netwok access for some time to come.