Reporter's Notebook: Wireless

It All Comes Together

Convergence will continue to be the biggest story in 2006, as private companies and the public sector ramp up more voice over IP along with their data networks. Despite some well-publicized worries about security, portions of large organizations will adopt IP telephony. But other portions will continue on legacy circuit-switched voice technology while IT managers move ahead conservatively as they worry over finding the killer application. The common interface over IP will continue to affect wireless communications as well, since IP offers a means for providing interoperability across proprietary networks.

Risky Business

Consolidation among networking vendors seems to be in order this year, following mergers by several service provider giants that were announced in 2005. Nortel Networks Ltd. has a new CEO, but it could be an acquisition target -- but with $11 billion in revenue, it would be a large bite. Computer Associates International Inc. (which is shortening its name to CA), having weathered years of problems, still could be absorbed by a networking hardware company seeking to scoop up CA's customer base.

On the buying side, Cisco Systems Inc. will again be on its annual hunt to find 15 to 20 small vendors to acquire as it evaluates promising emerging markets. Cisco wants to be a systems company, not just a networking vendor, so there could be a lot of excitement from John Chambers and company.

Coming Attractions

Cisco will release its Internet Protocol Interoperability and Collaboration Systems (IPICS) technology, offering interoperability between fire and police radios and other emergency systems using IP. As a result, thousands of emergency jurisdictions won't need to buy new radios -- if municipalities and states can overcome politics to work together. IPICS could also mean better productivity at private companies, especially in large shipping or transportation operations with multiple networks.

Palm Inc. will roll out its Treo handheld for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, giving financial analysts and other BlackBerry users an effective alternative to Research In Motion Ltd.'s device.

Alphabet Soup

In wireless, 2006 will be an alphabet-soup year, with 802.11i and 802.11n moving ahead. The 802.11i standard improves Wi-Fi security; it was approved in 2004, but more products will incorporate it this year. The 100Mbit/sec. Wi-Fi standard 802.11n faced a fractious year in 2005 among members of the IEEE standards body. But the high-speed standard will eventually gain acceptance, supplanting 802.11a, b and g. Let's hope they don't discover Greek letters.

WiMax will also gain ground, possibly reaching beyond consumers to include home-based workers who want to replace Digital Subscriber Line or cable modems.

See more wireless predictions in Evolution, Not Revolution.

What else is on tap this year in IT? See the complete Forecast 2006 special report.

Special Report

Bold Predictions for 2006

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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