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Mobile and Wireless Communications

Mobile and Wireless Communications

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Published by: Sriram on Nov 11, 2010
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10/15/2012

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In 2004 the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication (MIC)
announced that it had adopted a new policy, one that would follow on the heels of
its largely successful ‘e-society’ efforts. A target date of 2010 was set for the new
initiative, to be called the ‘u-Japan strategy’, with a government-led objective of
achieving a ubiquitous network society in Japan and with the secondary objective
of promoting it as a model policy for the rest of the world to follow. The u-Japan
concept refers directly to Mark Weiser’s pioneering efforts on ubiquitous com-
puting, and even quotes from his publications to explain that a fundamental aim of
this policy initiative is the development of a ‘seamless access environment for both
fixed networks and wireless networks’. The policy is, of course, based on the
assumption that advanced technology will soon be able to ‘connect everyone and
everything’ into user-friendly, safe and efficient networks of people and things.35
Clearly there is a trend emerging here and wireless networks are at the heart of
it. In the United States it is ‘ubiquitous computing’, in Europe it is ‘ambient
intelligence’, and in Japan it is the ‘ubiquitous network society’. In each context
the vision represents what might very well be the apotheosis of mobile com-
munications, which in some ways is quite the opposite of virtual reality. Rather
than entering a computer generated world using a head mounted display, with
ambient intelligence the world itself becomes a responsive environment that blurs
the distinction between public and private, here and there, and now and then. To
reiterate Howard Rheingold’s observation, a radically new ‘media sphere’ could
emerge before our eyes.
That might well be the case, but the primary focus of this book has been
considerably more modest. It has been our intent to introduce and describe the
fundamental terms and concepts of mobile communications, and to provide a
glimpse into the social, economic and political influences behind the major
developments in wireless technology. The book has considered electromagnetic
energy as the fundamental enabler of radio communications and then later
introduced the new challenges to the traditional command and control model of
spectrum management. We described the early generations of mobile radio-
telephony and the importance of the microelectronics revolution for making
possible Martin Cooper’s handheld mobile phone in 1973. In describing the
impact of digital cellular networks in the 1990s, we highlighted the contribution
of Nokia and Frank Nuovo in changing forever the popular perception of the
mobile phone and for turning it into as much a fashion item as it is a commu-
nications device. At the same time, we explained how the mobile phone morphed
into a multipurpose entertainment gadget while the industry was also stumbling
toward a 3G concept that had first been formed in the pre-Internet era with the
IMT-2000 initiative. We then described how Wi-Fi, wardriving and personal area
networks made possible with Bluetooth devices are now drawing the world’s
leading industrial nations toward a fabled ‘u-Society’.

Into thin air

138

Understanding technology and technological change is important not only for
engineers but also for those who want to know where these developments have
come from and where they might be headed. More significantly, the knowledge
gained in understanding something of the technology is important for a critical
engagement with social issues in a world permeated by technological change. A
recent report concerned with the ‘dark scenarios’ of ambient intelligence makes
this point quite clear: ‘While the world of ambient intelligence will undoubtedly
bring many benefits, trust and security should be designed into this world rather
than inserted as an afterthought into an already constructed world of smart
spaces’.36

It has been our intent with this book to provide some of the basic knowledge
needed for engaging in deliberations about the design of this emerging media
sphere. In this light it is perhaps most fitting to conclude with a gentle reminder
from Timo Kopomaa: ‘When all is said and done, it seems that mobile tele-
communication is, after all, a serious business’.

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