4G: Here It Comes, Ready or Not -- Part III | Page 3

WiMAX and LTE will be built into smartphones, PDAs and laptops first. But it will be possible, relatively inexpensively, to embed 4G in any device with a microprocessor - cameras, music players, cars, appliances, switches, meters.

So some see the advent of 4G as the ultimate enabler for wide area RFID (radio frequency identification) for asset tracking and monitoring - and for telemetry, with remote and mobile devices collecting data about their status and performance and automatically feeding it back to corporate computers.

"It's a question for innovators," says Kerravala. "In a world where everything is connected, what are some of the new things you can do?"

Is it also a question for enterprise IT professionals? Do you need to be doing anything now to prepare for the 4G era to come?

Cellular network equipment manufacturers and 3G carriers naturally say yes. Their recommended action: embrace 3G for data applications today so you're well "engaged" by the time 4G arrives.

And in an age of executive paranoia around good corporate governance, proponents of 4G for RFID feed the paranoia by suggesting that in future, not being able to track assets wirelessly may be tantamount to corporate irresponsibility.

All self-serving rationales, of course.

However, Regina Moldovan, leader of WiMAX product marketing at Nortel Networks Inc., does introduce one note of caution that IT managers might want to think about.

With 4G, Moldovan says, the line between consumer and employee will blur even further. The device that extends enterprise desktop applications to mobile users will also deliver high-quality video and online gaming.

"IT professionals should definitely be looking at and be concerned about security of corporate information," she says.

When we ask Redman, the 4G curmudgeon, if enterprises should be doing something now to prepare themselves for the future, he responds dismissively. "Absolutely not."

But then he relents and concedes that big organizations, including banks that may in future use 4G networks for mission-critical retail payment networks, need to at least have 4G on their roadmap.

Our take? We're in the Redman camp. Clearly, 4G should be on the planning horizon. You need to be paying attention to developments, but no immediate action is required.

Unless, that is, you have operations in one of the markets targeted by Xohm for early deployment of its network - it has already named Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Boston, Providence and Washington DC.

In that case, you may have an opportunity to get your feet wet with 4G early and maybe even reap some real cost and productivity benefits.

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