"We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge."—Robert Naisbitt in his 1982 book Megatrends. Naisbitt certainly got it right more than 20 years ago, yet the situation is even worse today. Not only are we more inundated than ever before with information, but the problem has worsened simply because it's now so easy to communicate it. Of course, one of the main culprits is the Internet, which arrived in earnest about 10 years after Naisbitt's book hit the stands.
We certainly know how to communicate information, and electronics have given us the technology to store it in massive hard drives, optical drives, DRAM and flash, and all of the various storage-area-networking solutions. How we extract knowledge from all that information is another dilemma, though. Hopefully, electronics will help solve the problem they created through better communications.
Today, communications represents the largest segment of electronics, surpassing the computer sector. Why have so many semiconductor companies shifted their focus from PCs to communications? It should be obvious with the rapid growth and acceptance of myriad wireless technologies.
If any one sector dominates electronics today, it's cell phones. Because of them, wireless local-area networks (WLANs), and other wireless systems, communications has recaptured the lead in new chips, products, and services. You could say that our communications options have expanded beyond our imaginations.
This section takes a look at the overall trends in the hottest communications and networking segments of electronics, including VoIP, Ethernet, and optical fiber, followed by broadband, short-range wireless, and cell phones.