Heading towards a wireless world

The media will use wireless technology more and more for their work in the future Keystone

A range of technologies is now on offer to help people to definitively pull the plug on their computers.

This content was published on November 26, 2003 - 10:06

The aim of wireless technology is to allow people to access the same services as from their computer without being connected to the machine.

These technologies are tailored to suit both small-to-medium enterprises and multinational corporations.

Wireless products are already firmly ensconced on the shelves of electronic shops.

This summer, French multimedia retailer Fnac even ran adverts suggesting its clients surf the internet while in the bath.

Bluetooth

There are currently three main wireless technologies available to the public.

Bluetooth is mainly used by those wanting wireless connections over a short distance.

Bluetooth technology can wirelessly transport data between two compatible appliances – for example a computer, a hand-held computer or a mobile telephone - over a distance of several metres.

This technology is often used in offices, as it cuts down on the amount of wires lying around.

Broader reach

For those seeking to move further away from their computer without a wire connection, WiFi (short for “wireless fidelity”) provides a high-speed wireless connection over a distance of about 100 metres.

WiFi transports data from a local network over radio waves, offering an extension to a local network. However, it cannot yet provide direct access to the internet.

For a remote device, for example a laptop, to use WiFi, it must be fitted with a special card. These are now widely available, and the latest devices even have wireless systems pre-installed.

Third generation

Mobile telephones are also now able to provide wireless access to the internet, using the universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS).

Also known as third generation mobiles, these devices are designed to provide a high-speed internet connection via the mobile phone.

Although some online access is already available via mobiles with general packet radio service (GPRS), this is limited to only a few online services, such as reading and sending emails.

David Marcus, director of mobile service provider Echovox, says UMTS will also be restricted, mainly due to costs.

“For reasons of profitability, operators will only install UMTS in built-up areas, while less populated regions will have to keep using GPRS,” he said.

Greater productivity

Research has found that companies can improve their productivity by providing their employees with wireless devices.

A study carried out in the United States recently found that businesses could save up to $2,400 (SFr3,300) per worker per year by giving their employees wireless devices so they can carry on working when they are away from the office.

And customers will soon have the choice of which technology to use at their fingertips.

At Telecom 2003, held in Geneva, companies promised to have multi-format devices - offering UMTS, GPRS and WiFi - by the end of 2004.

swissinfo, Luigino Canal

Key facts

Three main wireless technologies are currently available – Bluetooth (short distance), WiFi (up to 100 metres) and UMTS (internet access).
Mobile phones with GPRS also have access to certain internet services, such as reading and sending emails.
Research shows companies can improve productivity by providing their employees with wireless devices.

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