A monologue on a monorail

May 1, 2006
Last month, the city of Las Vegas was the site of two events that, in some ways, peered into the future of the structured cabling industry.

Last month, the city of Las Vegas was the site of two events that, in some ways, peered into the future of the structured cabling industry.

One was ISC West, which is aimed at dealers, system integrators, and users of security systems. The other was CTIA Wireless 2006, an event on wireless technology hosted by CTIA, which describes itself as the international association for the wireless telecommunications industry. While it feels like I spent three full days on (or walking to/from) Las Vegas’s monorail system, I actually spent two of the days at ISC West and one day at CTIA Wireless.

This month, I will use this page to relay my experiences, as well as do my best to view it through the lens of the structured cabling trade.

At ISC West, I almost literally could not turn around without seeing or hearing something about network cameras, network video, IP video, IP cameras, or some variation of that theme. It was pretty much everywhere. Network-video technology made up prominent portions of the show-floor displays of vendors that are household names, not just in the security or cabling industry, but in the true sense of the word “household name” across the United States and much of the world.

If I had been plopped onto the floor of the Sands Expo Center on April 5, told to look around a little bit, then report back on how widespread network video is in the security industry, I would have had to say it is virtually everywhere. You can’t miss it, so it’s a can’t-miss technology. Right? Well, that’s what I would have said if I had looked around only a little bit. But I knew I owed it to you, readers of Cabling Installation & Maintenance, to do more than just a cursory look around, draw a hasty conclusion, then hit the slot machines for a couple days. So, I took out my notebook and listened to whomever I could on the topic.

As a result, it sounds and looks to me like network video is still in the “promise” stage of development. The technology has existed for more than a decade and continues to develop. My opinion is that the market acceptance and widespread deployment are the promises being made today, more than the promise of workable technology. I noticed several charts that showed the infamous “hockey stick” growth curve for network cameras, with 2005 showing some decent growth, 2006 promising even more growth, and 2007 being the year it really skyrockets.

While network video may have been everywhere on the ISC West show floor, it is not yet everywhere in the field. Furthermore, one of the more interesting charts I saw showed that the great expectations for network-camera uptake do not have an accompanying prediction of doom for analog cameras. Not only will the installed base of analog cameras remain in use, but shipments of new analog cameras will, by and large, hold steady for several years to come. I liken it to a company that grows its business from $1 million to $1.25 million in one year and claims victory over its competitor, a company that remained stagnant…at $85 million.

Up the street at CTIA Wireless 2006, I spent a day immersed in gadgetry associated with the gadgetry that many professionals in the cabling industry use, but do not necessarily build the infrastructure for.

That is, the show had a significant slant toward all things Blackberry.

Information on wireless local area networking (WLAN) was scattered here and there, but was by no means a central theme. I did get to see some of the technology described in the article that begins on page 30 of this month’s issue, and I visited the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Many say the future of wireless networking is now, so perhaps the WLAN equipment was not so much a peek into the future as a view of the here and now. Either way, it certainly was worth the monorail ride.

Late-breaking news: As promised, this month I am delivering the results of our online poll about “AP” vs. “WAP” as an abbreviation for wireless access point. It wasn’t close. “WAP” beat “AP” by a 2-to-1 margin. So, this will be the last issue in which you’ll see AP used to mean access point. From here on in, it’s WAP for wireless access point.

Chief Editor
[email protected]

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