To optics and photonics experts, the status of wireless communications will seem strange. There is a shortage of technology to satisfy a substantial public demand. Photonic communication, in common with other information services, progresses in an orderly fashion from science to technology to standards to products to services. Then there is a search for applications, which eventually emerge. And finally there are revenues and rewards to the virtuous. I recall a phone call from the AT&T press office, while I was at Bell Labs. The caller wanted to explain to a non-technical audience the significance of multi-gigabit transmission. I calculated that you could send all of Shakespeare, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the Bible in a few milliseconds. The caller thanked me for the impressive illustration. Neither of us reflected much on whether anyone really wants to do that.
by David J. Goodman