Video - Coming to a WLAN Near You
I've lately been experimenting with a new idea, but one that I think will become common over the next few years. What I'm doing is building a wireless media facility in my home. The rule is that it needs to provide all common communications and entertainment capabilities (telephone, data networking, videoconferencing, and watching TV and videos, for example), but the only wires allowed into the room are the AC power lines that are already there. This is much more difficult than you might think, and it's beyond the capabilities of most of today's wireless LANs.
I've lately been experimenting with advanced technologies like MIMO and other multiple-antenna implementations to find a product that will work. Farpoint Group's Tech Note here talks about one of our recent tests, and should give you an idea of the issues involved and the progress the industry is making on addressing them. Even if you're not trying to send video through your house, this is a very important topic, for two reasons. First, improving the time-bounded performance of WLANs, critical for video and media applications, can only benefit more traditional networking applications. Second, we anticipate a lot of wireless media use in the enterprise in the future, both for video and most importantly for telephony in the form of voice over IP over Wi-Fi (VoFi).
I will have more to say on the whole wireless media world in future columns. Note that some wide-area video services are already available on certain cell phones today. Verizon's V Cast and Sprint's Sprint TV point the way to not just news clips and sports highlights, but actually being able to use the power of video for business and enterprise applications. Imagine standing at a booth at a trade show and shooting and sending real-time video of an important new product to your colleagues no matter where they might be. Like I said, there's a lot going on here, so stay tuned.