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Wireless technology is

[t]echnology that permits the transfer of information between separated points without physical connection.[1]


Spectrum bandwidth is a finite resource. Commercial wireless communications currently rely on bandwidth within a narrow range — a "sweet spot."[2] Wireless communications is constrained by the limited amount of useful bandwidth available. This constraint is both specific, in the inherent finiteness of spectrum, and relative, in comparison to the amount of spectrum available for commercial use in other countries.

Wireless communications services have grown significantly worldwide, and explosively in some countries. As wireless technologies evolve, they are converging with Internet technologies. Third-generation and future developments in wireless technology will be able to support services for business and consumer markets, such as: enhanced Internet links, mobile intranet/extranet, mobile commerce (m-commerce) — including the ability to make payments — "always on" capabilities, and high-quality streaming video.

Some m-commerce services use location-finder technology. In the United States, location-finder technology is also being introduced through the nationwide Enhanced 911 (E911) program.

Technology development[]

Mobile communications became generally available to businesses and consumers in the 1980s. The "first generation" technology, still in use, is analog, the prevailing telecommunications technology of the time. Second generation (2G) wireless devices are characterized by digitized delivery systems that provide qualitatively better delivery of voice and small amounts of data, such as caller ID.

The next major advance in wireless technology is referred to as "third generation" (3G) because it involves significant advances over analog and digital services that characterize current cellphone technology. The dramatic increase in communications speed is the most important technical feature of 3G.[3]

Many hypothesize that 3G will be an interim technology and that new developments in wireless and Internet technologies will advance to another level within several years.

Growth of wireless usage[]

Wireless phone use in the United States has risen dramatically over the last 20 years, and Americans increasingly rely on wireless phones as their sole or primary means of telephone communication. According to industry data, the total number of wireless phone service subscribers nationwide has grown from about 3.5 million in 1989 to about 285 million by the end of 2009.1 Today,nearly 40% of households rely primarily on wireless devices, and the industry generates revenues in excess of $150 billion a year. Further, consumers use their mobile devices for more than phone calls and text messages; wireless devices are increasingly becoming a primary link to the Internet.


  1. CNSSI 4009.
  2. The "sweet spot" is 2000 megahertz (MHZ) of bandwidth in approximately the 700-2700 MHZ range.
  3. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) identified key service attributes and capabilities of 3G as the following: capability to support circuit and packet data at high bit rates; interoperability and roaming; common billing and user profiles; capability to determine and report geographic position of mobile devices; support of multimedia services; and capabilities such as "bandwidth demand." 3G speeds are: 144 kilobits per second at vehicular traffic speeds; 384 kilobits for pedestrian traffic; 2 megabytes or higher for indoor traffic.[1] Higher transmission speeds are essential for robust Internet connections.

See also[]