A very good article in Fortune Magazine (at least, the online edition of Fortune) on November 11, 2002 by Brent Schlende outlines Intel's enormous "bet" on next-generation process technology to put them even further in the lead of dominating the microprocessor industry... and extend that lead into areas of seminconductor process where others are currently dominant - like Texas Instruments, currently dominant in Digital Signal Processors (DSP).
What struck me is the matter-of-factness in which the Intel personnel stated that wireless capabilities will be integrated into the microprocessor as "just another group of gates on the die" (my words, not their quote.) Others may be more skeptical... but I've been involved the PC business long enough to remember when everything but the microprocessor was optional, until Intel relentlessly integrated formerly optional parts of the PC - 2 serial ports, math coprocessor, parallel port, video, audio, Universal Serial Bus, Ethernet, cache RAM, and more. So, I believe Intel when they say that wireless is on the same integration path. 802.11b/a/g will be first, but soon enough Ultra Wideband will be integrated... and it will be everywhere, because it is a wireless technology that plays perfectly to Moore's Law. Because UWB devices can be built in CMOS processes, UWB is, increasingly, being referred to as a Moore's Law radio.
The implications are profound... For some time I've felt that the trend of decentralized, ubiquitous Broadband Wireless Internet Access wasn't a question of "if", but rather "when". Now we know "when" - within a few years, as the chips from the next generation of Intel's processes begin to hit the street. This trend is inherently decentralized and small-scale because there's no one commercial entity, or group of commercial entities, such as the wireless telephony companies, that can possibly scale to meet this tsunami of demand for broadband wireless connectivity. This is an enormous opportunity for literally every piece of commercial real estate to become a small-scale wireless service provider. Billing will be a non-issue; you'll put up your access point, sign up with a back-end provider, and see the deposits accumulate in your account.
My thanks to John Robb and his excellent weblog (linked at left) for the pointer to this story.