easier to use. For example, a sales person who needs to access a customer accounts database while at home or traveling must have, at a practical minimum, a V.22bis-standard, 2,400-bps modem connected to, or internal to, a portable computer; communications software; and an analog telephone line with an accessible RJ11, or similar, standard jack. Additionally, most communications software packages require that the user be at least minimally aware of communications parameters such as baud rate, parity, data bits, stop bits, and local echo. All of these requirements may be fairly easy to manage at home. However, if a hotel or customer site lacks telephone jacks, or has only digital telephone lines, accessing the customer database can be impossible. In fact, inveterate mobile workers can sometimes be identified by the contents of their well-stocked portable computer cases: screwdrivers and pliers to disassemble telephones, various patch cords with alternate telephone plugs or alligator clips, handset adapters, audio-coupled modems, and digital line adapters. Users who need to have full, mobile access to their company's computer networks must master additional levels of technical sophistication ranging from integrated services digital network (ISDN) telephone line standards to the technicalities of Internet addressing and packet transport protocols.
Inconsistent and inadequate user interfaces also increase complexity-of-use barriers and interfere with the adoption of new computing and communications technology. This is particularly true for distributed workers, who may find themselves using a variety of communications devices and services but in ways only incidental to their primary work tasks or to the primary use of the communications device. For example, it is often a matter of trial and error to determine which of the many services possibly used by a mobile worker, such as call waiting or cellular telephone services, interfere (and in exactly what way) with particular computer communications and how this interference can be eliminated. Often, the ability of end users to take full advantage of flexible and programmable services is limited by cryptic user interfaces based on touch-tone telephone keypads.
Consistency of interfaces and connections across a range of environments are equally important to the mobile worker. Today, for example, a cellular telephone user often needs to make several attempts to dial a long-distance call while roaming in another cellular provider's system. This will certainly become exacerbated when users more routinely wander from areas with high-bandwidth, multimedia connections, to localities with low-bandwidth connections, to remote locations providing high bandwidth from a distant network