Realizing the utopian visions of the wireless world requires continued innovation, and indeed, the innovation occurring in the wireless arena today is nothing short of amazing. Throughout the long history of radio, wireless has been largely concerned with long range and limited throughput. Today's focus is on broadband: offering higher data rates, capable of carrying many simultaneous interactions, increasingly in support of voice, data, video, and converged applications. We are now closer than ever before to achieving wireless broadband capabilities, and the future looks bright indeed. While the wireless industry is reaching a level of maturity to be celebrated, it is also vital to recognize that in many ways, we are just beginning to explore a new era of computing and communications, and more innovations will be required to realize the full potential. It is also worth noting that while data is overtaking voice in many parts of the world, in developing countries, voice remains the primary revenue stream for operators, and most of this comes not from the purchase of new handsets but from sales of reconditioned ones.
As discussed in Chapter 13, "Wireless Communications Basics," we still face substantial challenges, largely due to the fact that wireless is constrained by the inverse relationship between distance and throughput. In addition, the interactions of the radio signals with their surrounding environment result in a variety of impairments and degradations due to path loss, multipath, adverse weather, obstacles, interference, and so on. For wireless to compete effectively with its wired counterparts, innovations must continue. Fortunately, new solutions that are vital to realizing broadband wireless are emerging, including access to more radio spectrum, or bandwidth, improved modulation schemes and related elements, and advances in wireless network protocols. However, even with these improvements, the basic relationship between distance and throughout must always remain a foremost consideration.
The wireless landscape is very much colored by range, moving from shorter- to longer-reach technologies, culminating in a future where multiple radio systems will be integrated into a single device. The idea of having one universal radio is very compelling. It is therefore likely that the future holds a combination of both WLAN and WWAN technologies as the preferred solution for most enterprise users. The following sections describe some of the key emerging applications in wireless telecommunications: the handset revolution, Mobile IP, the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), mobile gaming, mobile video, mobile TV, and mobile content.
The Handset Revolution
Part I: Communications Fundamentals
Telecommunications Technology Fundamentals
Traditional Transmission Media
Establishing Communications Channels
Part II: Data Networking and the Internet
Data Communications Basics
Local Area Networking
Wide Area Networking
The Internet and IP Infrastructures
Part III: The New Generation of Networks
Broadband Access Alternatives
Part IV: Wireless Communications
Wireless Communications Basics
WMANs, WLANs, and WPANs
Emerging Wireless Applications