Six Big Wireless Arguments

Jeff Caruso, who is the Site Editor for Network World and who mysteriously allows me to post stuff here without his seeing it first, asked me to take a look at a recent article from NWW on the 50 greatest arguments in networking. Six of these pertain to mobile and wireless, and here are a few thoughts for your consideration:

  • Corporate-controlled devices vs. employee-owned devices - Ultimately, all devices accessing enterprise IT resources will need to be owned by the enterprise. There's no way IT can (or should be allowed to) manage a personal device. However, it should be possible to have two distinct personalities (with two different phone numbers) in a single handset - one business, one personal. I call this idea the virtual cell phone. The best of both worlds.
  • BlackBerry vs. Palm - BlackBerry. Palm's OS is on the way out, as are most "mobile" OSes as Big OSes supporting Big Browsers become the norm. The iPhone points the way. Android is a wild card, but I wouldn't best against it. Of course, one might conclude that BlackBerry is therefore also on the way out, but it's safe for some time to come. More on that in an upcoming note.
  • Municipal Wi-Fi vs. 3G - Both. These are entirely complementary. Wi-Fi is unlicensed, small cell, and optimized for capacity. 3G is licensed (no interference), big cell, and optimized for coverage. Femtocells in concept might upset the Wi-Fi apple cart, but they won't. More on that later as well.
  • Fat wireless LAN access points vs. thin wireless LAN access points - Both and neither. We still don't know exactly what an AP should be. We do know that centralized management is essential, and that distributed data (with direct forwarding) is probably the preferred approach as wireless becomes the norm. But we'll continue to argue about the control plane for some time, with solutions all over the map.
  • CDMA vs. GSM - Well, GSM is 80% of the market, and its upgrade path is to UMTS which is based on - CDMA, although not CDMA2000. The real winner over the longer term is OFDM, and more on that later, too.
  • Wireless LANs vs. wired LANs - Both. Wireless is only appropriate when wire can't be installed, when wireless is cheaper (over the life-cycle of a given installation), or where mobility is a factor. Wireless call centers and help desks should be rarities. And we don't have gigabit wireless - yet. Regardless, wire never goes away. Ever.

Gee, this is fun! I can't resist taking on a few more. Mac vs. PC: I always thought the Mac was a toy, but Apple has turned their appliance into a serious substitute for a computer. I must confess I truly hate PCs today; Microsoft has ruined the experience with buggy, unreliable, complex nonsense masquerading as an operating system. The first four Macs arrive here later this month. Tape vs. Disk: Someone still uses tape? Really? Intel vs. AMD: I can't believe it's not Intel. SNA and OSI vs. TCP/IP: I could tell you stories about my arguing, more twenty years ago, that IP would be the only protocol that matters. Short takes: IP V6 - eventually. Distributed. NAS. Switching. SSL. Network Neutrality. It's absolutely amazing how much there is left to do, and not just in wireless.

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