Hot Spots in Death Spiral

Hot Spots in Death Spiral. InfoWorld's Ephraim Schwartz argues that paid hot spots will be overwhelmed by cell data except in airports: I disagree with many of the premises on which Ephraim makes his argument, but I also don't think that I can prove myself correct until a few years have passed. Perhaps we need a bookie to get involved and set odds? I'm of two minds on for-fee hot spots: the only way for them to succeed in the long-run is to be part of larger networks that charge fixed monthly fees and to offer significantly more bandwidth than cell data can possibly provide. Cell data is a great idea, but it's a shared pool of fixed spectrum with high costs attached. The carriers are all getting involved in Wi-Fi for reasons that contradict Ephraim's: they want to leach off data onto cheaper-to-operate hot spots to keep their voice networks able to handle more and more call volume. A couple of fundamental disagreements: Seamless switching a vague promise? It's a near-term reality, probably first surfacing in limited form in a few months, and then widely available by the end of 2004. I don't think it's very difficult to accomplish, as I've seen a demonstration — that required client/server software — at NetMotion Wireless's office and in the field with their equipment. DSL runs at 600 Kbps to 1 Mbps: I've had 1.5 Mbps ADSL that did provide nearly 1.5 Mbps of download speed. There are folks in Snohomish, a tiny town with a small central office a few dozen miles north of Seattle, who have 8 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream ADSL. DSL can operate that fast if there's a market force pushing the telcos to upgrade their central offices to support better speeds. SBC is such a company and this might be part of the motivation they need. Technically, there's no reason for DSL to run as slowly as it does. Finally, I'll just reiterate my point: ubiquity is trumped by speed and price. It's likely that an unlimited national roaming Wi-Fi plan will cost $20 to $30 added on to a cell subscription within a year. (You can already get all T-Mobile locations for $20/month and all Boingo Wireless locations for $21.95/month.) The 2.5G and 3G rollouts aren't priced in the same class, and cell carriers have made it clear in recent weeks that you aren't going to see 3G speeds… [Wi-Fi Networking News]

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