By Harry Helms, Co-founder, Elsevier Science Book Group
Short-range wireless networks operating under Part 15 of the FCC's regulations exemplified by the 802.11 family were the most significant RF/wireless development in the past decade, and that will likely be true in the coming decade as well. Consumers are demanding wireless internet access in more places than just coffeehouses and conference rooms; soon hotspots will be common in shopping malls, public parks, hotel rooms, or almost anywhere else cell phone service is currently available. New devices will be created in response to the growing availability of "wi fi" access. For example, voice-over-IP technology might be widely employed in transceivers, like today's hand-held Family Radio Service units, to permit voice communications through hotspots. By 2013, many of us might not leave the house without a PDA-like "universal access device" that would allow voice, web access, e-mail, and paging functions. Security, user authentication, and billing issues may be more significant challenges than hardware design. Many current licensed users of the gigahertz regions, such as the amateur radio service, may find themselves displaced by the growing needs of Part 15 networks.