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7/30/2010
01:05 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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The Cellular Network - Not Just For Cell Phones

When most of us think of our cellular network, we immediately think of cell phones. That is why we fork over big bucks to the carriers each month right? They keep us connected without tying us down to a physical location. Today though there is so much more using cellular networks that have nothing to do with voice communication at all.

When most of us think of our cellular network, we immediately think of cell phones. That is why we fork over big bucks to the carriers each month right? They keep us connected without tying us down to a physical location. Today though there is so much more using cellular networks that have nothing to do with voice communication at all.In recent years with the advent of data services such as GPRS, EDGE, 1xRTT, EVDO and more, our phones also have great data capabilities to our phones. We now have 3G USB dongles for our laptops or portable WiFi networks like the MiFi device that allow one or multiple computers to get online and use a 3G connection. We even have ebook readers that use the wireless network to get books.

That is really just the tip of the iceberg though in what cellular networks will be used for in the future. AT&T issued a press release where they added about 900,000 connected devices to their network in their most recent quarter, bringing the total to 6.7 million connected devices. While the definition of a "connected device" isn't clear cut (what in mobile technology is?) it basically refers to single or limited purpose devices. Smartphones, iPads and 3G dongles are not connected devices, but a Kindle would be.

What is interesting is the variety of connected devices being deployed. eReaders are an obvious device and well established in the market. Digital photo frames have also been out for a while, allowing you to download the latest pictures to your grandmother's frame 1,000 miles away.

Vitality Inc. is developing a product called a GlowCap for medicine bottles that will use lights, sounds, SMS messages and even phone calls if the cap detects it hasn't been opened often enough. I presume the cap is sending signals through AT&T's network to a central monitoring station that physicians can access to set up their patient's dosage requirements.

American Security Logistics is working on a pallet tracker that combines GPS tracking and network updates to allow the owners of the product to know where it is. They will be extending this though to more personal tracking, like the location of pets and even patients with Alzheimer's.

There are other devices in use or in development, and I am sure AT&T is not alone in providing these services. I thought it was interesting in the wide variety of devices sharing bandwidth with our electronic gadgets, communicating far more than just emails, apps or the latest YouTube video.

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