We’ve been tossing around the term “spatial web,” but perhaps without asking you, or ourselves, to contemplate sufficiently its meaning. A good place start is by being surprised by the phrase itself, explains George Gilder, chief income strategist at Gilder’s Technology Report.

In the first two generations of the web, we all had to get used to thinking non-spatially. The big new thing about the internet, to which we all had to adjust, was that it was not in a place. There was even a new term, “cyberspace,” invented to help us deal with this paradox of a non-locational destination.

The spatial web, in contrast to the World Wide Web (WWW), is preeminently about location. Locating things is one of its primary functions. Much of the point of the Internet of Things is to confirm that physical stuff—from precious to inventory noxious pollutant—is where it ought to be and not where it shouldn’t be.

Connecting the IoT is a spreading mesh of mostly wireless connections, varyingly Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, CBRS, 5G/Fixed Wireless and more to come with the choice of technology dominated by spatial considerations: how far the signal must travel. One result will be the final triumph of what we have called the short-wireless paradigm, which says that wireless connections become more valuable as they shrink in range and drop in power.

The cost of linking your mobile phone to your basement Wi-Fi approaches zero. That’s why some 80% of “mobile” phone calls are airborne for at most a few hundred feet, transiting to a landline without ever connecting to one of those huge and very expensive cell towers in the distance.

Tower-based transceivers today exist for only two reasons: The technical and logistical challenges of high-speed handoffs, which need to happen when your mobile phone is actually moving at a good clip, typically in your car.

If you have a Wi-Fi mesh via Wi-Fi6 you are already experiencing handoffs when you walk from room to room in your home. Roaming from building to building on your corporate campus is a similar technology that keeps your call from being dropped.

As for the logistical challenge, in the world of the spatial web, those issues all but disappear. Imagine a world in which 99% of your time is spent in environments buzzing with wireless connectivity because every active device, from light switches to thermostats to appliances to industrial machinery, is linked into the net via a transceiver of some sort, totaling tens or hundreds of billions of connections across the earth.

Because all those connections are low-power and short-reach, interference approaches zero. For the same reason, you are rarely more than a short hop from the landline net, across which bandwidth is essentially infinite.

Is there a nugget of investment advice in here somewhere?

Two, one familiar and one we have not discussed very much in the past.

The familiar one is that tower-based mobile networks are doomed, and the legacy telcos such as Verizon and AT&T, not to mention the tower companies themselves, e.g., American Tower (AMT), are headed for the trash heap of history.

The other will take longer to become apparent. For now, we will say just this: Qualcomm (QCOM) stock has been selling off because of a decline in mobile phone sales, the chipsets for which account for more than 65% of the firm’s revenue. In a world of ubiquitous wireless connectivity, much of it supplied by Qualcomm devices, the mobile phone market will account for only a minority of Q’s revenue and the volatility of the smart phone market will have a much smaller impact on its share price.

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