It’s an exciting year for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine as we prepare to launch our survey for the next Contractor Profile. Two years ago, we published in-depth research that delivered some keen insight on how wireless technology and e-commerce were being embraced by the electrical contractor. We were intrigued to discover that many contractors viewed computerized devices and handheld technology as a business necessity and were willing to utilize new technology to their advantage. Our 2004 profile will include even more detailed information on how the electrical contractor is diving into wireless waters and riding this market wave, so don’t miss the survey results in our July issue.

Part of our Industry Watch section this month explores the growth of wireless communications—we find out that total spending in the United States will grow this year by 7.6 percent, achieving a total of $144.7 billion. Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a thriving market? If you are an electrical contractor already performing voice/data/video cabling, you are in an excellent position to enter the wireless local area network (WLAN) arena. Expanding networks with wireless abilities has become an attractive alternative, especially when dealing with older structures, since running cable is often considered time-consuming and labor intensive. Adding wireless capacity is seen as a value-added service.

Though offering wireless installations may seem appealing and provide advantages in business negotiations, contractors must also realize that it is a complicated trade. Understanding all the factors that affect wireless networks and installations will make contractors more marketable.

Our issue this month is packed with articles that focus on various communication systems, including our cover story by contributing editor Deborah O’Mara, which explores the future of wireless in emerging security applications. On page 22, Kellie Speed examines how contractors are responding to specifications and installing communication systems in correctional facilities. Don’t forget to check out our Cool Tools column this month, which details communication products that will help you run a smoother operation both on and off the job site.

Last but not least, if you have a specific idea in mind that you would like us to explore in our “2004 Profile of the Electrical Contractor,” please let us know. We are revamping our survey once again to better reflect the dynamics of our growing industry. Hope you enjoy the issue.

STANIMIRA Z. STEFANOVA, Editor