A pair of somewhat unrelated news articles caught my attention forcing me to look at what the near future might hold in store for us.

First, we have a quote from this press release,

“ResearchChannel, in partnership with the University of Washington and the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC), demonstrated High Definition video transmitted across IP networks today at the TERENA 2005 conference in Poznan, Poland. Attendees observed HD programming transmitted from ResearchChannel’s DigitalWell digital asset management system over advanced networks from Seattle, Wash., to Poznan, Poland, at a rate of 270 megabits per second.

‘As a new member of the ResearchChannel consortium we are pleased to cooperate with the University of Washington to deliver high quality HD transmission and present it at the TERENA Conference. This enables us to showcase the demanding application which utilizes optical networking technologies to deliver HD quality streams over IP,’ said Maciej Stroinski, Ph.D., technical director of PSNC. ‘We expect a rapid growth of such services, enabled through developments in optical networking and IP, which will open new application possibilities in the multimedia industry. We are committed to cooperate with ResearchChannel in further research of this subject.'”

A 270Mbps video stream? What a technology like this hold for high definition video communications? If this service were inexpensive enough would Grammy subscribe to it so she could see her grandchildren in living color? Would this be a service that wide adoption could be expected? Would this kind of infrastructure finally make it possible for real telecommuting to take off? What kind of competitive advantages would this provide our country once this type of infrastructure was installed everywhere – like telephone service is now?

There is also this news story today discussing the inability of even our newest not yet ratified standard (802.11n) to meet our projected needs moving forward.

“‘There is a common opinion throughout academia, industry and business that the current wireless technology fulfills neither current nor future demands,'” according to those behind the Wireless Gigabit with Advanced Multimedia (WIGWAM) project. This German-led consortium of corporate and university researchers says 100Mbps is the bare minimum needed for the future of wireless. It is using the 108Mbps 802.11n and MIMO technology as the starting point for bringing 1Gbps wireless into offices and homes.”

Yes, I know that the article is talking about indoor LANs but the reality is that we are only an extension of that technology. I also know that people who have real high speed LANs in their office would never go back to a 10baseT network or an original Token Ring network.

Like it or not we are moving towards connecting everywhere into a worldwide LAN (oxymorons anyone?) where data (of any kind, voice, video, etc,) can be exchanged at the blink of an eye.

To me, the question isn’t if this will find its way into the mainstream but when.
Will wireless be able to handle this kind of extremes?
Only if we demand it.

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