Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The futility of expanding wi-fi

Remember CT2 or the initial incarnation of PCN?  They have gone the way of the dodo.  The technology is now used in DECT phones.

Efforts to expand wifi to provide wide area coverage will meet the same fate.

CT2 was marketed as a poor man's alternative to cell phones.  It is a neat engineering idea.  You get to use a wireless phone when you are in range of a base station.  But it is just that, a neat engineering idea.

Using wi-fi as a poor man's wide area data network is in a similar situation.  The reason is not un-obvious.

If only, say, 20% of the time that you need to use the Internet you find yourself outside wi-fi coverage, you would need to pay for a data subscription from your cell-phone company.  And, if you already have paid for wide-area data why would you still pay or need wi-fi?

Wi-fi has its uses, just like DECT phones.  You use it at home or in the office, when you are pretty stationary and there is no point expending power sending data a few miles away when you can send it down the hall.

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