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Future Wireless Landscape

Sriram V Iyer
22nd Sep 2011
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Wireless

Guest Column By Sriram V IyerI have recently been emboldened by some of my predictions coming true (*) – So, I now want to have a go at the future of wireless landscape based on the current advancement in technologies…

Hybrid Wireless Networks will be norm: Various forms of wireless networks will co-exist. Even as 3G gets rolled out in India (almost 11 – 12 years behind schedule!), the 3G coverage would typically be targeted at certain areas which would help the operators find maximum customers. I’ve worked on rolling out one of the world’s earliest 4G networks (called WiBro, a flavour of WiMAX) as early as late 2005! Some of the 4G technologies like LTE are getting mature and will be deployed along with 3G in some areas, and might totally leapfrog 3G and be deployed in some areas. So, we are going to see a lot of Hybrid Networks co-existing (with or without overlap) in near future. Some of the technologies that we’ll see are LTE (Long Term Evolution), HSPA+ (Evolved High Speed Packet Access), 3G and other legacy technologies. The key challenge for mobile devices would be to maintain seamless connection across multiple Radio Access Technologies

Multiple Form Factors: So far, we have seen mostly Mobile Phones, tablets and USB dongles kind of devices help us access the internet while we are mobile. However, as 4G/LTE becomes deployed in more and more areas, we’ll have increasing number of devices access the internet. This is because, with LTE, devices can enjoy speeds that were never thought possible with wireless internet. At peak, LTE networks can support 100 Mbps! So, you can imagine taking HD pictures and videos, and uploading them to facebook or video sites (youtube, vimeo) directly from your camera! It should also be possible to do HD gaming with gamers all around the world from your hand-held gaming devices. Emails / Video-On-Demand should be a trivial affair for devices. We can expect devices of various form factors use 4G technologies to connect internet. (As a direct result, IPv6 will gain more importance, but that’s another story)

WiFi Offloading: Despite huge speeds offered by the 4G/LTE technologies, there could be cases where the data networks could choke because of increased data usage. So, offloading data to WiFi hotspots (called WiFi offloading) will become an increasingly important part of our wireless usage. A lot of work needs to be done in terms of transfer of connection from mobile network to WiFi (even though a lot of work has been going on in this domain.

Mobile IP and Session Management: As the devices change their underlying radio access technologies, it will become imperative on the higher layers to keep the network level connectivity going on. Session management across multiple access technologies is an important problem that needs to be addressed.

Sriram

This does pose an interesting scenario to the applications that are being developed. They must increasingly be aware of the underlying access technologies to provide the best possible experience for the user. It is indeed true that life is getting complicated. But, each of the challenges above present a tremendous opportunity to advance the technology and probably make some money on the way!

Do post your comments, and share your views!

What are your thoughts on this article? Write to us at feedback@yourstory.in(*) See my article on Dynamics of Google’s Acquisition of Motorola Mobility – One of the predictions was companies like HTC would like to work on their own operating systems. They recently made an announcement in this regard.

Do follow Sriram’s column regularly at mobile.yourstory.in

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