While DSL and fixed wireless vendors boast business-to-Internet links in the megabits per second, a start-up called TeraBeam Networks (www.terabeam.com) promises connections in the gigabits per second. Set to launch in a limited market in the first quarter of 2001, the technology uses laser beams to transmit data between devices through office windows. As with fixed wireless, this avoids the need to dig trenches and lay cable. Unlike fixed wireless, no rooftop rights are required, and because laser communications are unregulated, you don't have to wait for (and pay for) spectrum licenses. The only drawback: Like fixed wireless, it's susceptible to weather interference. Still, interest in the technology runs high, and Lucent has invested in a joint service with TeraBeam.
Eric Brown, a regular contributor to PCWorld.com, is a freelance writer living in the Boston area.