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Weep For New Orleans -- Worry About A Wireless Future

I'm sitting here looking at a map of the levees and flood walls that surround the stricken City of New Orleans -- it is an amazingly complex network of man-made defenses built to withstand moving water, nature's most powerful force. Its extent has enabled the building of one of America's most special cities, and its inherent fragility has enabled that city's virtual destruction at the hands of Hurricane Katrina. And so it is with the wireless networks that we increasingly find ourselves wanting to be dependent on.Every time I hear analysts, pundits, and gurus talking about our brilliant wireless future, I cringe. I am especially squinched up right now because, as I am sure you have noticed, there are no stories touting the heroic value of the cellular or WiFi networks in New Orleans during its moment of crisis. That's because there’s nothing left of them -- they are gone.

You might also say that the wired networks that preceded them are also gone, and you'd be right, but in this case so are the roads, railroad tracks, bridges, and canals, our more primitive communications media. Hurricane Katrina's destructive force was particularly brutal, but the point I want to make is that the first things to go in the face of almost any natural, or military, or terrorist, or criminal force, will be the most fragile, and the most fragile communications link we have is the wireless one that everyone is so enamored of.

So, weep for the City of New Orleans, send money, and give whatever assistance you can. But also think hard about what you really want supporting your communications and messaging future.