The Next Ratchet-Up is Just Over the Horizon...

I Find Karma (
Sat, 14 Jun 97 22:01:56 PDT

mainstream... nice of him to call it "Bill Gates' Teledesic"...

> Would a pocket PDA/phone that provided affordable global voice and data
> services change the way you work or the way you live your life
> (Technology + Business + Society)?

Um, yeah. Sign me up, please!!!

> The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing:
> A World Without Boundaries
> by Jeffrey R. Harrow, June 9, 1997
> [snip]
> The Next Ratchet-Up Is Just Over the Horizon.
> Technology is great stuff, and it's fun and profitable to use and
> explore. Of course if you're reading the RCFoC, I don't have to tell
> you that, because you're already interested in keeping up with, and
> speculating about, where the technology of contemporary computing is
> going. But that's not enough, anymore -- to only focus on the
> innovations and trends of the technology. To assess the importance of
> each change, we also have to look at how it might be embraced by
> society, and used by business. It's those innovations and trends that
> fall at the intersection of technology, AND society, AND business -
> those that are embraced beyond just the technical community - that are
> most likely to "make a difference."
> Perhaps the greatest current example of this is, of course, the
> Internet. Three years ago if you weren't a UNIX guru or a university
> student, you'd probably never heard of the Internet, much less used it.
> But driven by the user-friendly World Wide Web we saw the words "Web"
> and "Internet," and the concept of "connectivity," explode across the
> covers of Time, Business Week, and the front pages of "establishment"
> newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Times. That
> can be a good tip-off to us that something fundamental is happening
> around any particular technology innovation -- not just another article
> in Byte or PCWeek, but crossing the chasm (with apologies to Geoffrey
> Moore) into the mainstream media.
> For example, as I've been doing more than my share of traveling this
> past month to conduct several RCFoC Seminars in different countries,
> one example of an imminent "crossing" came to my attention, and it
> revolves around "connectivity."
> Although it tends to surprise those of us who don't usually travel
> beyond North America, people in many countries now consider pocket
> cellular phones to be as common and ubiquitous as Americans do cars. In
> these countries almost everybody has a pocket phone, and they think
> little of using them. Business people, tourists, even teenagers are
> usually connected. And given the relatively compact geography of many
> European and Mediterranean countries, they often have coverage
> throughout the country -- one person joked that in his country, he
> could "receive poorly virtually everywhere." (Of course along with the
> "good" that can come of this, the social implications of people
> physically being part of a group in once place, but conversing with
> someone else across the city or around the globe, can be disconcerting.
> And then there's the sound of the phone ringing from the next stall...)
> But what does this heavy use of pocket phones have to do with the
> Rapidly Changing Face of Computing? It has to do with "infrastructure"
> and how this growing connectivity is likely to evolve to global,
> pervasive, voice and data.
> For example, had I really felt a burning need, I could have placed a
> call from the Swissair 747 over the center of the Atlantic to any phone
> on the globe -- or checked my Email or sent a fax. Satellite telephony
> is already quite real, if a bit hard to justify by mere mortals, since
> the cost is $5.50 -- for every 30 seconds. (But remember that it wasn't
> too many years ago when the use of any "long distance" call was an
> expensive event reserved for emergencies or top business deals; today
> it's far less expensive to place a regular call, even overseas, than to
> create a formal business letter.) And that same "commoditization" is
> likely to happen with global satellite coverage. Motorola's Iridium
> system now has its first satellites in orbit and expects to be
> operational -- next year. As does GlobalStar's network. And there are
> others coming as well, such as Odyssey, due in 1999. And then of course
> there's Bill Gates' Teledesic... (An overview of some of these projects
> is at
> Now these global satellite systems will be fascinating technological
> achievements. But if they are only used by the few, they will have
> little impact on you and I (for example, Inmarsat already provides
> global telephony and data services, but the notebook-sized terminal
> costs about $4,000, and "airtime" is $2.50/minute). Suppose, though,
> that like the Internet over the last couple of years, or pocket
> cellular phones in a growing number of countries, business and society
> were to embrace having access to data when and where you need it.
> Suppose that these emerging global information infrastructures priced
> their services in competition with the locally available
> telecommunications services?
> Consider that using existing satellite phone technology is already half
> as expensive as the local cellular international rates for calls from
> some areas in the Russian Federation to Western Europe! Or that
> Teledesic's $9 billion price tag is only half that estimated by Pacific
> Telesis to rewire California for high speed wired access (economics
> which have driven many emerging countries directly to cellular
> networks; they can't afford to go back and install wires)! But what's
> particularly fascinating to me is that I didn't have to research formal
> telecommunications journals or other obscure technical tomes to get
> these details; they came from the Hilton Guest magazine (Issue One,
> 1997) sitting in my hotel room. "Obscure" topics such as the emerging
> satellite voice and data services, details on using the latest
> notebook-based presentation technologies, and pointers on Email
> etiquette are what the typical business and vacation traveler is now
> being educated about as they pick up the magazine while trying to get
> over jet lag!
> The idea of pervasive, global voice and data is already beginning to
> "cross the chasm," just as the Internet did a couple of years ago! Such
> "mainstream" press coverage will raise peoples' comfort level and build
> demand even before the systems are actually available. The process has
> begun.
> Would a pocket PDA/phone that provided affordable global voice and data
> services change the way you work or the way you live your life
> (Technology + Business + Society)?
> Think it won't happen? Check with someone who lives in a country that
> has already embraced the pocket cellular phone. The next ratchet up is
> just over the horizon (sorry), and if the coverage is good enough, and
> the price is low enough, the rules, for all of us, will change big
> time. The opportunities for global network solutions will be --
> sky-high. Welcome, to the rapidly changing face of computing.

I also thought the following was interesting to keep in here.

> Finally, on the subject of the Information Highway continuing to wind
> its tendrils into the fabric of our society, consider this. According
> to the May 23 Chronicle of Higher Education, beginning in the year
> 2000, if you want to graduate from Kalamazoo U, you've got to have
> profiled your academic career -- on the Web.

Being there. Doing that. Getting the tee shirt. Moving on.


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