Andres Llana, Jr.
Wireless technology has been with us for many years; however, the application of this technology did not begin a very real advance until the mid-1990s. Much of the success of this technology can be traced to the rapid deployment of wireless technology in European countries. In these areas, the deployment of wireless local loop (WLL) systems made it possible to provide an alternative to the lack of a dependable copper infrastructure. In some countries where subscribers waited years for a telephone, the availability of wireless technology reduced the wait time to weeks. Later, as GSM networks began to proliferate, the concept of greater mobility (i.e., mobile handsets) enabled many more subscribers to move onto the public network without the requirement for even a terminal in their homes, as was the case with the WLL systems.
Due to the growing penetration of cellular services, the International Telecommunications Union projects that by 2008 there will be more mobile than wireline subscribers, perhaps as many as a billion cellular subscribers. The fast-paced growth in global wireless services has greatly impacted the expansion of wireless data communications. This is not to say that wireless systems in support of data communication requirements have not been around for some time; it just was not embraced as an enterprise network solution.
However, with the success of wireless technology in European countries and around the world, more viable wireless solutions have made their way into the marketplace. Broadly speaking, the driving forces for change can be seen in the growth of the Internet, increased user mobility, and pervasive computing, where computer chips now play a greater role in the monitoring and control of various service devices. Mobile telephones and pagers have accomplished a great deal in supporting the remote worker's requirement for maintaining a meaningful information exchange with corporate headquarters. Applications such as voice messaging, online fax, and online information access have driven wireless data transmission to the next tier. These applications have served to give the new-age "road warrior" a definite advantage as a remote worker.