Web Chat: Wireless Web Internet's future

The newest evolution in Internet technology will be defined by current attempts to bring the Web to users in a wireless format.

Just follow the money.

The Internet and telecommunications industries are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the wireless Web - technology that will allow users simple access to giant networks with a cellular phone or personal digital assistant, or a combination of the two. The technology is already out there and it is in its infancy, an indication that we are not far from shedding the restrictions of "hard-wired" PCs and lagging modem connections.

Some of the world players in telecommunications are already committed, perhaps over-committed.

Deutsch Telekom shelled out $50 billion earlier this year to buy U.S.-based Voicestream. Then the company turned around and spent an ungodly sum of money in Britain and Germany to buy government-licensed bandwidth (the frequencies over which information travels).

Plans for similar market presence in the U.S. could put the company in the hole for many billions more. Broadband auctions here will include competitors like AT&T Wireless and Sprint PCS. They are all competing for a scarce commodity in the wireless world - bandwidth.

With instant paging, stocks and sports scores, and e-mail on common cellular phones, the past two years have shown us the first glimpses into what will soon be a comfortable part of our lives. With the shrinking of silicon chips and improved power sources, screens will get bigger and more user friendly.

The latest hardware shows this trend.

PDAs are now available with wireless capabilities, making them ideal for a quick glance at digital files back at the office, or sending a fax to a colleague while waiting in the airport. Special wireless Web pages are formatted for the smaller screens and sometimes awkward button-operated commands. A few are voice activated, something that will improve over time.

The most revolutionary of these new technologies combine separate devices, with separate capabilities into one. There are phones which have a PDA feature on a larger screen. Samsung has a cellular phone that stores MP3 (music files) and has a pair of headphones. You can imagine how popular this will be with teenagers.

In the near future, you might see companies mimic the business plan of Sprint PCS, one of Northern Nevada's cellular providers.

Sprint offers wireless Web for $10 more than the normal cost of a wireless plan.

The company has a Web partnership with companies like Amazon.com, eBay, CNN, Fox Sports and E*Trade. These companies provide Web support with pages and menus that are compatible to the new generation of cellular phones, and Sprint directs its costumers to their sites. It's like a match made in heaven.

The advantage of this set up could be that it will simplify e-commerce for users that are fed up with too many fish in a small pond. The user will have enough variety where brand choice will not be hampered, but it will be limited in scope. Kind of like a shopping mall at your fingertips.

The phones are equipped with "minibrowsers" similar to the ones that a user would have on their own PCs. Text-only versions of Web sites can be displayed on an LCD screen.

This is great stuff and it is only getting better.

Questions?Ideas? E-mail at jimscripps@Tahoe.com


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