Monday, January 02, 2006

Wireless networking at SJSU

Hail the new wireless network, now let's plan its replacement
According to a story in today's Mercury News by Dean Takahashi [Link] the hot thing in this year's Consumer Electronics Show is going to be Internet connectivity. No, he is not talking about your computer, he is talking about all kinds of devices including things like digital cameras and iPods connecting directly to the Internet to access and move data around:

This year's Consumer Electronics Show is expected to demonstrate that just about every type of gadget will be connected to the Internet and each other -- giving folks access to more digital entertainment like music, video and games, and forcing companies to make their gear work with other devices.

As we ponder and plan the next phase, version 3.0 of the university's wireless network, we need to come to grips with the challenges of how we can provide the levels of security we need to protect our university's digital assets while still enabling access to the network by digital devices that may lack the ability to log in to the wireless network using a web browser:

Just how big a factor will the Internet be in new gadgets in 2006? Consider this: For the first time, Google co-founder Larry Page and Yahoo CEO Terry Semel will be making speeches at this year's show, which is the showcase of the latest hardware innovations. This year, 2,500 exhibitors are expected at the four-day event that starts Thursday in Las Vegas.

As we look at the involvement of folks like Page and Semel, we see why companies like Google have been investing in dark fiber and making offers of free wireless access to metropolitan markets. They are planning to be selling in this space. Building free wireless networks when you are selling on the Internet is like building free and convenient parking lots when you are building a shopping mall. You cannot sell if folks can't get to your store. The technologies of selling are the technologies of collaboration and conversation. There is a whole new wave of collaboration technologies that go far beyond the paradigm of just using a computer to access the Internet for web browsing and E-mail. This new paradigm of mobile and pervasive networking is going to require a much more reliable, robust and inclusive wireless networking infrastructure. According to Takahashi:

People want to move content from the Internet -- movies, games, or music -- to any of their devices, and view that content wherever they want. And while they want the functions the Internet provides -- like instant feature or software updates -- they don't want the hassle of logging into a network.

Tomorrow we will be able to celebrate the turning on of version 2.0 of the wireless network at SJSU. This will happen as the Comcast network is turned on and used on our campus. But, we will not have much time to rest on our laurels. We have to plan version 3.0 now! The future is right around the corner. In fact, it may soon be in the palm of our hand.

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