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What is driving forward wireless data? Well, there are several important factors. One of the most important is the advent of smaller and more powerful portable computers. These machines mean that people can be much more mobile than in the past. A computer on its own is a powerful tool, but a computer attached to a network is even more powerful. So wireless users wish to exploit the full power of their laptops by connecting them to networks.

Another force pushing the uptake of wireless communications is the Personal Digital Assistant or PDA such as the Apple Newton, US Robotics PalmPilot or the Psion. These small, handheld devices were initially little more than electronic diaries, but with the development of more powerful processors they have evolved into sophisticated machines in their own right, capable of reading and sending e-mail, faxes and surfing the web. These devices are becoming more and more popular due to their low price and high functionality. Connection to the internet or the intranet improves their usefulness.

The improvements made in radio modem technology are also important in the market place. When Mobitex first came into commercial use in 1986 the radio equipment required was huge - it took up a significant part of a car's boot. It was mobile, but only if you had a car, there was no way in the world that you could use it in hand held terminals. Mobitex modems are now available on PC Cards, which are the size of a credit card and about a centimetre thick - a big improvement on the old technology. So now it is feasible to use one of these modems in a portable PC or PDA.

Of course, the decrease in cost of all these items and the wireless data services means that they are becoming available to a greater portion of the market which in turn means a larger subscriber base.

What's going to happen in the future is very hard to say. Bernt Ericsson, Ericsson's research manager, has talked about wireless multi-media application that would allow two-way,wireless video conferencing. Telia, Sweden's state owned PSTN operator have a vision of wireless multi-media communications at the cost of today's telephone calls. In a similar vein, Ericsson are currently involved in Sweden's largest ever research project to deliver a wireless multi-media network with a bit rate of 10 Mbps by the year 2005.

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