If you think the Internet is powerful now, wait until broadband is with us properly. It’s short for broad bandwidth and is a high-speed telecommunications network that can carry video and multimedia as well as voice. BT’s ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is a broadband service and is currently being rolled out in this country. ADSL offers an continuous, high-speed link to the Net, which ultimately will be able to work 40 times faster than ordinary modems – it is currently about 10 times faster. Users will pay a flat-rate fee, making it much easier to control costs in a department.
A short-range wireless technology that will let devices such as laptops, PDAs and mobile phones talk to each other within a 10 metre radius (soon to be extended to 100 metres). It will also allow devices to hook-up to the Internet remotely. Nearly 2,000 developers are working on Bluetooth products, which should begin shipping soon. Data communications company Elsa has already developed a wireless networking technology and Ericsson’s Bluetooth-enabled phones, which also incorporate WAP, are expected later this year. Phone manufacturers such as Ericsson and Nokia are hoping they can use Bluetooth to turn their products into the ultimate remote control for all your devices.
Global Positioning System receivers use information sent out by satellites to pinpoint where you are. The technology has long been used in built-in navigational systems for cars and there are a number of hand-held devices aimed at outdoor adventurers. Today, GPS is being used in the second phase of test 3G phones to instruct phone networks where a user is so it can provide localised content.
These allow you to navigate the Internet using your voice, via a phone. They are being developed and are already in use in the US in voice portal services such as Tell Me. It is early days, but they have the potential to be one of the most important developments for mobile phone users. In theory, it means you could access the Internet while driving using a hands-free mobile phone.