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Negatrends - Technologies you won't see in the year 2000
(IDG) -- For every technology that has a revolutionary impact (the Internet, for example) there are dozens that take decades to assimilate into mainstream business (such as videoconferencing). The following is a subjective list of six networking trends that won't come to fruition this year.
1. Broadband Wireless: AT&T, Cisco Systems and Sprint have recently announced stepped-up investments in fixed wireless. The acronym du jour is MSP (mobile service provider). You might think the age of broadband wireless has dawned. It hasn't. Widespread commercial availability of broadband fixed wireless services and mobile services (including the much-touted third-generation wireless, or G3) will not occur until 2002, at the earliest. Why? Technical limitations and competing broadband-access technologies (DSL, cable modem, T1/E1) will slow the deployment of fixed wireless, and spectrum ownership concerns and the expense of infrastructure upgrades will keep G3 services mostly unavailable despite early European trials. That's why wireless access protocol took center stage at the recent CEBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany; it allows users to access Web-enabled applications via existing narrowband wireless networks.
2. Fiber to the Desktop: Networking vendors love to claim that the insatiable demand for bandwidth means copper cabling is obsolete in local area networks. Users, they say, should plan to install fiber straight to the desktop, rather than the usual design of fiber in "backbone" connections, with copper cabling on each floor going to user desktops. The argument: Optical cabling prices have dropped so much (true) that fiber is now cost-equivalent to copper (false). In fact, while pricing for fiber has decreased by 50 percent, the cost of active optical components (adapter cards and transceivers) remains prohibitive for desktop deployment. Moreover, copper can handle virtually all the bandwidth that users require -- the newest standard, Category 5 enhanced, is certified to handle gigabit speeds.
3. IP-Based PBXs: It's hard to think of a more overhyped technology than Internet protocol-based private branch exchanges (company-wide phone networks), which are said to have all the functionality of Nortel or Lucent "big iron" PBXs. If you believe vendors like Cisco (which has aggressively pushed its 1999 Selsius acquisition), IP-based PBXs are ultra-low cost, highly versatile and scalable. The reality: These products have lower reliability and limited feature sets (missing functions like voicemail indicators and fraud protection), and aren't necessarily cost-effective. Complete IP-PBXs won't replace existing systems until 2005, at the earliest.
4. Seamless Security: Without easy-to-manage security, b-to-b won't happen ö companies will be loath to transfer their proprietary data across iffy links. Despite ongoing progress in public-key infrastructure, smartcard and biometric technology, seamless security is a couple of years away. The biggest challenge? Devising and administering an effective and scalable security policy.
5. XML as a Net Management Panacea: Extensible markup language has gotten rave reviews as a fast, easy way to communicate with network management systems. In all fairness, the boosters have a point: XML will ultimately enable the Web to provide an effective and scalable management tool. Although XML has some useful features, it's a language, not a framework; XML-based tools won't replace current network management frameworks, like HP's OpenView, for a few years.
6. Free Bandwidth: The theory: Just as prices for memory chips and processing CPUs have dropped to near zero, bandwidth costs, driven by new technologies such as dense-wave-division multiplexing, will follow. The reality? While META Group research indicates that unit prices for voice and data services have been dropping 10 percent to 50 percent a year, wide-area network costs will rise through at least 2005. Why? WAN bandwidth consumption continues to grow dramatically, due primarily to the rising cost of network talent.
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