"The Future of Wireless Communications", William Webb, 2001,
%A William Webb
%C 685 Canton St., Norwood, MA 02062
%I Artech House/Horizon
%O U$69.00 800-225-9977 fax: +1-617-769-6334 artech@...
%P 434 p.
%T "The Future of Wireless Communications"
Predicting the future in the technical world is a dangerous business,
particularly in a rapidly changing field like communications. Yet the
author attempts to do so not just in the short term, but over a range
of twenty years. If nothing else, you have to admire his courage.
And Webb does know the dangers: he points out, in chapter one, the
foolish predictions that have been made over the years. But he also
demonstrates the importance; to business, public policy, and other
endeavors; of prediction, and the possibility of achieving educated
guesses if you make the right kind of forecast.
Part two examines the factors that drive future development. Chapter
two starts at the end--the end user, the final customer, and the
desires of the public market. The material is generic, and possibly
too vague to be of use in prognostication, but does point out some
areas for consideration. Discussion of the great number and variety
of technologies involved in the general field of wireless
communications makes chapter three rather lengthy.
Part three looks at practical constraints and limits on future
development. Chapter four surveys technical restrictions, but is
confined to the traditional contention model, without considering the
benefits of cooperative models arising out of data networks. Social,
financial, and other restraints are discussed in chapter five,
although the view of standards as a limiting factor seems odd in an
era when de facto norms seem to spring up in mere months. The review
of organizations, in chapter six, seems a bit weak.
Part four is the heart of the book, or, rather, hearts: bets are
hedged by providing a number of views of the future. Chapter seven
presents a view of how the future might have looked to an analyst of
twenty years ago. A "technologist's" perspective sees more demand for
telecom, but provides contradictory views of using it to bring the
world to us (video-on-demand and home shopping) as opposed to going
out into the world (the "day in the life" scenario). A "bold" vista
sees a growth in some forms of telecom in the near future. A list of
various standards and potential applications makes up a realization of
the information society. "Learning from the Past" is an
unintentionally ironic title, since the scenario that starts the
chapter uses applications which all exist already (apart from a
software operator that handles calls for the user). Chapter twelve
discusses some minor problems with developing technologies. The
"Communications Cocktail" is perhaps the most realistic attempt to
view the future: although I suspect it is a bit short-sighted, there
is an acknowledgement that one telecom solution will not fit all. An
"official" prognostication from the UK reads much like every
government analysis you've ever seen. A summary of the predictions is
given in chapter fifteen, but the appraisal (which is reasonable)
comes in sixteen. The material is repeated, with different
structures, in chapter seventeen.
I suspect that the predictions made in the book will seem very
conservative when viewed twenty years hence. At the same time, the
text does provide a very good overview of the immediate situation with
regard to mobile communications and the developments coming onstream.
For the telecommunications manager, this work is a reasonable, if
verbose, guide to the next few years in the wireless world. The
longer term will probably be significantly different.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001 BKFUWLCM.RVW 20010925
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