CASE HISTORY A brief history of Wi-Fi Jun 10th 2004 From The Economist print edition Wireless networking: Few people have a kind word to say about telecoms regulators. But the success of Wi-Fi shows what can be achieved when regulators and technologists work together IT STANDS as perhaps the signal success of the computer industry in the last few years, a rare bright spot in a bubble-battered market: Wi-Fi, the short-range wireless broadband technology. Among geeks, it has inspired a mania unseen since the days of the internet boom. Tens of millions of Wi-Fi devices will be sold this year, including the majority of laptop computers. Analysts predict that 100m people will be using Wi-Fi by 2006. Homes, offices, colleges and schools around the world have installed Wi-Fi equipment to blanket their premises with wireless access to the internet. Wi-Fi access is available in a growing number of coffee-shops, airports and hotels too. Yet merely five years ago wireless networking was a niche technology. How did Wi-Fi get started, and become so successful, in the depths of a downturn? Wi-Fi seems even more remarkable when you look at its provenance: it was, in effect, spawned by an American government agency from an area of radio spectrum widely referred to as "the garbage bands". Technology entrepreneurs generally prefer governments to stay out of their way: funding basic research, perhaps, and then buying finished products when they emerge on the market. But in the case of Wi-Fi, the government seems actively to have guided innovation. "Wi-Fi is a creature of regulation, created more by lawyers than by engineers," asserts Mitchell Lazarus, an expert in telecoms regulation at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, a law firm based in Arlington, Virginia. As a lawyer, Mr Lazarus might be expected to say that. But he was also educated as an electrical engineer-and besides, the facts seem to bear him out. ... http://www.economist.com/science/displayStory.cfm?Story_id=2724397 ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.