Thursday, August 2, 2007

WIFI is dead! Long live WIFI!

When I'm in my office, I'm connected via my Apple Airport Express on my desk so I can have my network access and stream music to my Xtreme Mac Tango that I won at a party at MacWorld 2007 last January. When I'm at home, I'm working off of another Airport Express. Fine. That's a good use for WIFI to give local wireless access to a local (private) network.

When I travel, I turn OFF my wireless and use my Sprint EVDO card exclusively.

With the travel that I do, hunting for a WIFI signal is a real pain in the butt. And these days, its easy to spoof an access point and sniff all sorts of goodie data from the ether. I'll bet after this coming weekend the hackers that will gather in Las Vegas for DEFCON will showcase more issues for us to worry about. ;-)

If you ever been to a trade show, conference, etc. you have experienced firsthand how WIFI simply falls apart when hordes of people are trying to access the network. At the last Web 2.0 conference, the wireless system was all but useless, and that was a bummer for the presenters like Adobe who couldn't showcase their wares without internet access.

note : I opted to get a dedicated card for my MacBookPro instead of using DUN off of my Treo 700p because I use my phone when I'm online and switching back and forth is a real pain. My only complaint is the pricing difference when the service is the same. (sigh)

With my EVDO card I have high speed internet access everywhere I go. No hunting for a WIFI signal, no daily WIFI charges and no worries about WIFI spoofing, etc. And when I say everywhere I go, I mean EVERYWHERE. On the beach in Maui, in a taxi in NYC, in the air train at SFO - I get 1.5mb down and 384k up. Essentially DSL speeds. I can do anything while on EVDO that I can do when I'm in my office. And that is a HUGE advantage when I'm mobile.

Of course EVDO isn't 100% coverage in the US, but for 90% of the places I travel to, I've got signal. When it's not EVDO it's 1rtt, which is about double the speed of dialup and the same speed as the wireless data for the iPhone.

Of course, Green Bay doesn't rate, so we don't have widespread EVDO here, only around Lambeau Field where Sprint has a small EVDO tower because of their contract with the NFL that requires them to have EVDO service at all NFL stadiums. If we did have EVDO here, I'd never turn my wireless on and bug Apple about making EVDO internal like 802.11.

Of course, WIFI is still decent for making a local network wireless for laptop roaming, but for traveling it really sucks.

The future isn't WIFI and the telco's know it. WIMAX and EVDO (3G) will rule the roost.

The business impact of this was interesting as I was about to roll out a city wide WIFI network for Green Bay ... and then I got my EVDO card. Serious users (like me) will have EVDO cards as we require high speed for our livelyhood. Casual users will stay on WIFIl, and keep dealing with the pains of WIFI because its free. If its a free service, you can't really complain and those users aren't a decent source of revenue, so I abandoned my WIFI plans.

Well, perhaps I put them on hold... it would still be an interesting social experiment. Though in most metro's, the WIFI networks take more hardware to roll them out (Google's little network in Mountain View) and they get less use than people thought they would. But I still have boxes and boxes of WIFI gear just waiting to be deployed....

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