Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.
After listening to a recent bicsi debate on optical fiber versus copper wiring, a cabling contractor commented: "While we`re arguing about these two media, a third medium, air, is going to replace them both."
Intrigued by this statement, I started asking around about wireless technology. The consensus among the industry experts I polled was that wireless is no immediate threat to wireline communications, at least in premises and campus applications. One consultant I spoke to said, for instance, that the bandwidth isn`t there, and there are unsolved problems with interference. Also, there are dead spots and other coverage problems inside buildings.
All of these drawbacks may be there--today--but will they still be around tomorrow? Victor B. Lawrence, director of the Advanced Multimedia Communications Technology Center at Bell Laboratories (Murray Hill, NJ), has predicted that wireless capacity will increase more than a thousandfold in the next decade. "As we look ahead," he said at a recent conference, "continual progress in wireless technology will soon make it possible to economically provide per-user data rates of several megabits per second, at least inside buildings." Lawrence noted that the long-term trend is for wireless technology to support such applications as voice, data, multimedia, imaging and video.
We in the PennWell Communications and Optoelectronics Group are watching wireless. This spring, for instance, we launched Wireless Site Reports, a market- research service profiling the buying activities of the 6000 commercial wireless communications system operators in the United States and Canada. Covering personal communication services, cellular, paging, two-way and wireless data, Wireless Site Reports are being updated at the rate of 250 sites per month, and are available both by subscription and on an individual basis.
Some of you will, no doubt, subscribe to this new wireless service, but its real benefit to most cabling installers and network managers will be the knowledge and perspective that its staff contributes to Cabling Installation & Maintenance. Just as the editorial coverage of Lightwave, our sister publication, brings fiber optics expertise to bear on many issues of interest to you, the new wireless service and its staff will contribute ideas and stories on premises and campus voice and data networks to this magazine.
So, if the fiber-versus-copper debate ever becomes the fiber-versus-copper-versus-wireless debate, we`ll be covering it for you.