ATLANTA (06/08/2000) - Though wireless communications technology has great potential for some applications, there are major doubts whether it will become a dominant force in broadband technology, Robert W. Lucky, corporate vice president of Telcordia Technologies Inc., said in the closing keynote address at the SuperComm conference here today.
Wireless broadband technology had lagged a generation behind fixed networking applications, Lucky said.
"The question I don't know the answer to is whether or not wireless will become a player in this market. I'm not talking about mobile applications; that's definitely going to happen." Lucky said. "But the question for fixed broadband access is, 'Is wireless going to be a real player the United States, or is it going to be too little, too late?' "The subtext to the question is how far Ethernet technology can go, particularly in the metropolitan area, Lucky said. There are different types of metropolitan networks now being tested for MANs (metropolitan area networks), based on technologies including SONet-light (Synchronous Optical Network), WDM (wavelength division multiplexing) and optical. But there is also Ethernet because it's been a "tremendous market triumph," Lucky said.
"We've grown to love it over the years. You just plug and play and that's the antithesis of (other networks)," he said.
Lucky also raised questions about the development of applications for wireless broadband. Even services like a system that sends information about traffic jams to a mobile phone can be foiled if everyone receives the same information and heads the same way around the jam, he noted.
Another "paradox" he said he was grappling with is what will be the affect when data traffic overwhelms voice traffic on the network.
"In the new world of next-generation networks, voice is just an application, nothing more, but the problem is all the money is in voice, and you wonder how long can this last. Is this an untenable situation ... all the traffic is data and all the money is voice?" Lucky said.
Commenting on Napster Inc., whose software application is used to trade and download MP3 music files, Lucky said the product is an example of how popular applications will be developed in the future. Describing Napster as a "neat network technology," Lucky said it makes everybody's computer into a server.
"The problem with the network architecture we have today is servers are clogged. What Napster does is when you download a file it makes it available to everybody else ... so the files spread themselves throughout the network," he said. "Unlike everything else where you are getting stuff pushed out at you, Napster stuff is going both ways."
Lucky said Napster is "being sued out of existence" by the Recording Industry Association of America, which alleges copyright violations, but he said the technology, created by a 19-year-old, is a harbinger of other applications.
"There's a whole interesting network technology that's happening (with Napster), and it's happening outside the industry, and I think that's the way things will happen," Lucky said.
Telcordia, based in Morristown, New Jersey,can be reached at +1-973-829-2000 or found on the Web at http://www.telcordia.com.