Karl Nelson, manager of strategic technology for Intel Labs, outlined the company's vision of the near future. Using intelligent roaming, users would be able to disconnect their notebooks from an office local area network (LAN), go downstairs to a cafe, and instantly be on the café's standard IEEE 802.11 wireless network without rebooting the computer or even closing any applications.
"We will be demonstrating a streaming video presentation that continues streaming when you unplug from the wired network and automatically switch to the wireless network," Nelson said.
Intel's existing wireless adapter switching software, which was shipped with its PRO/Wireless LAN family of products earlier this year, only allows users to switch between a wired LAN and a wireless LAN. However, Nelson claimed, intelligent roaming - to be launched in 2002 - will also allow users to switch seamlessly between wireless LANs and wireless wide area networks (WANs) including 3G and 2.5G mobile systems.
"You'll see it initially in our networking clients [interface cards], then in notebook and tablet products," Nelson said.
The technology will also complement the roll-out of 3G and 2.5G high-speed mobile data networks, as well as 802.11 wireless "hotspots", in places such as coffee shops and airports, Nelson said. In Tokyo, NTT DoCoMo has already launched 802.11 wireless access on some trains.
The technology is also designed to use open standards, Nelson said. "If people use 3Com or Cisco for their infrastructure, wonderful, we'll work with that," he said. "We've also been working with Microsoft, and they've been working very diligently with seamless roaming."