What's Down the Road
So getting rid of the cables within your home is a cool thing indeed. (I take a certain nerd's pride for each cable I'm able to tie up and store away. Doesn't add any functionality, mind you, it's just, you know, cool.)
But wait. The New, New thing, as author Michael Lewis would describe it, is a standard called 802.16, which aims to do away with the cables coming into your home. For now, plans are that 802.16, or WiMAX, will begin hitting the U.S. market sometime in 2005 (in some places, this is already a reality), and it might just replace the cable modem you now use. This new standard serves as a sort of long-range Wi-Fi connection, delivering wireless connectivity at up to 30 miles from an antenna, with speeds of up to 75 Mbps. (Cable modems pipe data to your 802.11b device at just about 5 Mbps at the top end.) Within three years, expect to see cheap 802.16 laptop cards that will make wireless broadband Internet access as easy as placing a mobile phone call today. Remember life without mobile phones? Me neither.
And get this: while WiMAX technology will first be used for broadband Internet access, it could eventually deliver digital TV as well. Cable without the cable.
But the focus here is on wireless LANs, using the 802.11b or g technologies available today. Before you access a wireless LAN, you'll need to make sure your laptop (or desktop) has a wireless network adapter. Without this component, of course, WLAN networking is impossible. Options abound, though.