The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
national telecommunications network. Wireless already reaches
across the United States, with hundreds of wireless companies
competing to offer voice and data services, innovative
applications, and value to millions of consumers. These hundreds of
wireless service providers have been developing, funding, and
deploying a wireless NII for over 10 years, since the first
cellular system began operating in October 1983.
For all of that, wireless has almost been the secret success
storyperhaps because it is the success of private enterprise.
Over the past 12 months, there have been 19,043 references to the
NII or the information superhighway in the media 4. Of those stories, only 2,139
mentioned wireless or cellular. Of course, the reality is sinking
in that the NIIor the information superhighwayis and
must be more than a high-fiber diet (of fiber optic cable and other
hard-wired systems). The reality is that people are mobile, and
mobility implies being wireless. But being fixed does not
necessarily mean being wired. Indeed in many
environmentsurban and ruralfixed services are better
delivered by wireless technology than by wired technology.
CTIA, as the industry association for wireless
providersranging from cellular to enhanced specialized mobile
radio (ESMR), satellite, and personal communication services
(PCS)has been relentless in pressing this message. CTIA and
its members also have been relentless in making it a reality.
Indeed, the CTIA Foundation for Wireless Telecommunications has
cosponsored and cofunded wireless education and wireless medical
projects across the country (Box 1 gives two examples) 5.
Increasingly, wireless is being recognized as a vital part of
the NII. This forum is one example of that recognition. Last year
the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Committee on
Applications and Technology requestedand
receivedcomment on the demand for an NII, and on the role of
wireless in the NII 6. The Office of
Technology Assessment issued a report on "Wireless Technologies and
the NII" in August 1995. This recognition, however, is only the
beginning of the battle.
BOX 1 Examples of CTIA-sponsored Wireless
Wireless at Work in Education
On May 2, 1995, the CTIA Foundation, Bell Atlantic
Mobile, and Cellular One donated state-of-the-art wireless
telecommunications systems to two elementary schools in the
District of Columbia. The ClassLinkSM initiative intends to improve
education by bringing wireless telecommunications and information
to now-isolated classrooms, allowing schools to link with the
Internet via wireless modems.
Wireless at Work in Medicine
The CTIA Foundation is funding a project at New
York's Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center where wireless is
providing a system of coordinated care to tuberculosis patients.
The project, done in conjunction with the New York City Department
of Health and the Visiting Nurse Services of New York City, enables
visiting nurses equipped with laptop computers and wireless modems
to treat patients in their homes.
Most of the wireless components of the NIIcellular, ESMR,
and PCSrequire the deployment of cell sites as their basic
building blocks. These sites comprise antennas and towers, as well
as base station equipment. The cellular industry alone, composed of
two carriers per market, constructed almost 15,000 cell sites
between 1983 and 1994. By the end of 1994, almost 18,000 cell sites
had been constructed (Figure 1).
As Figure 2 indicates, cell sites have traditionally supported
service to between 1,000 and 1,200 users per site. As the number of
subscribers increases, the number of cell sites must likewise
increase in order to meet demand and preserve service quality.
Another 15,000 cell sites may be required for cellular systems
alone in the next 10 years, based on the projections of Barry
Goodstadt of EDS Management Consulting that cellular might achieve
subscriber levels between 38.2 million and 55.1 million by 2006 7. (Although the deployment of digital
technology might reduce the absolute number of additional cell
sites required to meet demand because of capacity restrictions, the
number of cell sites required must still increase in order to
improve geographic coverage. Thus, the precise number of such cell
sites is a matter of speculation and is not definitively
predetermined by subscribership.)