VoIP is a protocol that requires a nice steady flow of packets. In 2005, the buzz will shift from QoS to predictability. Giving VoIP protocols absolute priority over other protocols that share bandwidth is not the answer. Witness how desktop VoIP phones are getting their own dedicated switch ports and PoE and even dedicated trunking ports through the core. The trend? VoIP sharing the box but not wire. A big challenge for 2005 will be extending this model beyond the campus.
Wireless technology where multi-path signaling is actually encouraged for it to work efficiently is exciting. Interest in 802.11n will grow tremendously, increasing the pressure to forge a single standard and beat the projected second quarter 2006 ship date. Chipset vendor Airgo has the "pre-n" jump by partnering with Belkin just to demonstrate how good this stuff is. But I wouldn't go so far as to predict that they will win the "n-wars." Look for a compromise and (hopefully) a low cost field upgrade path.
Users will get more in 2005. For companies to survive, products need to do more and do it better, faster, cheaper, and integrated. A phone with a 5 megapixel camera with a zoom is not a new product. It's a better product. One way to achieve product and technology acceleration is through consolidation. See next prediction.
Convergence = consolidation. Cingular + AT&T Wireless. Oracle + PeopleSoft. NextTel + Sprint. This trend will continue at all levels. Cisco will continue to acquire companies (including their own startups – what a great idea to encourage innovation). Smaller 802.11 wireless security vendors will consolidate, get bought-out, or whither. As for convergence of data/voice/video, I feel it's a bit overrated. Think about VoIP going down (data center outages as well as Internet outages are horror stories). Now the users are literally beating your door down rather than calling (because they can't). All the more reason to keep cellular networks out of data networks and hot spots. See next prediction.
It won't happen in 2005
Nationwide seamless integration of cellular and Wi-Fi will not happen in 2005. What we need first is a consolidation of turf-guarding hot spot providers. Why should I pay $24.95 for a month of access (the only option I was offered) to a certain hot spot provider at LAX when I can't use it anywhere else I happen to travel?
Scott Haugdahl, CTO, WildPackets Inc.
Scott has a computer science degree from the University of Minnesota, Institute of Technology. He has over 20 years of experience in the networking industry, including troubleshooting and optimizing networks for many large organizations. He has designed and taught workshops and seminars to thousands of networking professionals worldwide, was a regular contributor of columns and articles for Network Computing magazine, is the author of the book Network Analysis and Troubleshooting, and is the author of the expert system found in the WildPackets EtherPeek NX and AiroPeek NX LAN and wireless analyzer products. Mr. Haugdahl founded Net3 Group in 1996, which was acquired by WildPackets Inc. in 2000.