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Edholm's Law of Bandwidth

"According to Edholm's Law, the three telecommunications categories [wireline, 'nomadic', and wireless] march almost in lock step: their data rates increase on similar exponential curves, the slower rates trailing the faster ones by a predictable time lag. As the chart shows [see "Telecom Rules"], if you plot data rates logarithmically against time, you can fit three straight lines to the results: the three maintain more or less the same relationship. (Interestingly, though, extrapolating forward indicates a convergence between the rates of nomadic and wireless technologies around 2030. Perhaps that's not too surprising, since both rely on the same core technology, radio.)

If we project forward, Edholm's Law says that in about five years 3G (third-generation) wireless will routinely deliver 1 Mb/s, Wi-Fi will bring nomadic access to 10 Mb/s, and office desktops will connect at a standard of 1 gigabit per second.

One consequence is clear: whenever the bandwidth demand of an application native to one transport category meets the rising edge of another category, there is a perfect opportunity for an adoption explosion by a new and larger pool of potential users.

Another consequence, Edholm notes, is that we may someday see the end of wireline. Its continued use depends on a consumer need for ever-higher data rates, and he believes that there may come a time when no more is needed. But applications such as HDTV, high-quality videoconferencing, and three-dimensional displays all have the potential of continuing to require more and more bandwidth. And beyond these, holographic imaging, virtual reality, immersive reality for telemedicine distance learning, and other high-bandwidth applications will probably continue to keep the demand for wireline connectivity strong.

At some point, though, we'll reach some fundamental human limit: the human eyeball can process only so many pixels per second, for example. When wireless can hit those limits, we can abandon our wirelines, and all telecommunications will be completely untethered and mobile."


Edholm's Law (named for the CTO of Nortel) meshes perfectly with what Mr. Rutkowski calls 'the atomization of information'. Essentially what this boils down to is that ultra-fast wireless data transfer rates are coming -- and the applications to take advantage of that bandwidth will have to rely on portable displays.

Due to the smaller package size, higher image and color quality, and the potential for more inexpensive manufacturing of Microvision's beam scanning platform relative to LCDs and other miniature flat panel display technologies, this writer feels it is a reasonable assertion that Microvision technology will dominate the market for portable information displays in the years to come.


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