5 Wireless Technologies in Your Pocket
Hyper-fast advances in technology continue to impact our lives in many ways. In the last 10 years, the devices, applications, and data we use have fundamentally changed. Can you remember what you were using in 2008—flip phones, Blackberries, Exchange?
The technology macro trends of mobility, cloud, and big data have also changed how we conduct business as well as our personal lives. Let’s take a deeper look at the first of these—mobility—to understand a bit more what is going on behind the curtain.
The starting point is the smartphone in your pocket. Smartphones are the most popular personal technology devices in the world, with billions in operation. It’s your gateway to the rest of the world, keeping you connected 24×7.
Most smartphones contain no less than five types of wireless communication technologies, each with different capabilities and serving different purposes. One way to think about these technologies, and for the purpose of this discussion, is as Near, Personal, Local, Wide, and Global Area Networks (NANs, PANs, LANs, WANs, and GANs). This table summarizes the characteristics of each:
As you can see, the way we use each of these wireless technologies varies widely. Each serves its purpose, and collectively, they enable the myriad of applications we use on our devices—from email and social media tools to games and digital healthcare apps. Smartphones are the power users of wireless technologies and many support all five. Laptops and tablets normally support only two—personal and local area networks—and optionally wide area and global networks.
The use cases for wireless technologies overlap in many cases, which provides the convenience of options when one may not work in a specific location or situation. For example, you could select Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to stream music to your laptop. You could use LTE or Wi-Fi to connect your smartphone to the Internet. You might choose Wi-Fi when it is available to avoid data charges from your mobile provider.
These technologies complement each other as well. For example, Bluetooth will work with Wi-Fi to increase communication bandwidth when connecting smartphones to laptops. You can use Wi-Fi to connect your devices to a personal hotspot, which in turn uses LTE to connect to the Internet. And both Wi-Fi and cellular are used in assisted GPS to more quickly determine a device’s location since GPS by itself can take a long time (10+ minutes) to initially locate.
Ideally, all these technologies work seamlessly under the hood and you don’t have to worry what you are using, and when. We may not be quite there yet, but as we look forward, we will continue see significant innovation in mobile technologies for years to come. New 5G mobile networks will replace 4G/3G infrastructure over the next decade. New variations of Wi-Fi are being developed. The common theme in these developments is greater reliability, better performance, and more seamless usage. To the old adage, change will continue to be the only constant.
Originally posted on Forbes.com.