Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"There is mounting evidence that cellular service companies are going to do whatever they can to kill Wi-Fi." Or so claims John Dvorak of PC Magazine (http://tinyurl.com/3bofxj). True, it is possible wifi may supplant cellular service, but it's his gross generalization of cell companies that makes his claim laughable.

T-Mobile certainly isn't threatened by wifi. AT&T, which now owns Cingular, also sells wifi hotspot service. Sprint announced they would sell routers that allow their customers to share their 3G connection via wifi, and I have no doubt their WiMax plans account for sharing and networking via wifi. Seems the only company unwilling to deal with wifi is Verizon.

Dvorak goes on to specify that the real threat to these companies is free municipal wifi. He seems to forget that the provider does get paid for that service and the big guys all have the means to bid on and fulfill those contracts, which also allows them to charge for commercial use and faster, higher-tier service.

Finally, Dvorak has the audacity to claim that municipal wifi will be faster than 3G. That will be true... someday. But in the near term, the free wifi in San Francisco will peak at 300 kbps (http://tinyurl.com/td7fw). My test of the free service in Waikiki showed speeds around 800 kbps (http://one.revver.com/watch/122716). That's a far cry from the 54 mbps misleadingly cited by Dvorak (that's LAN speed, not Internet speed). Furthermore, WiMax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX) is just a year away with range measured in miles and potential speed up to 40 Mbps. And rather than compete with wifi, current iterations of WiMax indicate it will be implemented in conjunction with wifi to provide wider wireless coverage. Who's leading the WiMax charge? Sprint Nextel (http://www2.sprint.com/mr/news_dtl.do?id=12960).

Honestly Dvorak, don't you have an editor or fact-checker or something? Or does everyone at PC Magazine think 802.11g lets them surf the web at 54 Mbps? Mentioning it was either misleading or ignorant, take your pick, as was your lumping of all cellular providers as being wifi-phobic and your broad reference to wifi when you really meant *free* wifi, and obviously no business wants to compete against free.

On a side note: who are you calling a jerk? Two "jokers" working outside on their laptops on a lovely day in the park? We should all be so lucky (and using tablets instead). When the weather's nice, I love to be outside (http://sumocat.blogspot.com/2006/11/lunch-outside-with-my-r25.html) taking care of my personal computing. Haven't had much opportunity to do actual work outside, but I do now. When the weather improves, I'm going to do just that because I'm a "jerk" and because I can. But I'll probably do it via wifi because, as you failed miserably to point out, it doesn't require signing an oppressive contract of servitude service, which is an advantage of free wifi that cellular providers should truly fear.

CateGoogles: mobile_tech
Mood = unimpressed


John Dvorak doesn't know wifi


  1. Even if he is an old, windy gasbag, he is still mildly entertaining :o

    By Anonymous timbo, at 2/28/2007 01:59:00 AM

  2. Right on. Dvorak has it out for cellular, probably as a result of a bad customer service experience. And he is indeed entertaining. But he's way way off on this topic, and you pegged him on the holes in his logic. I'll bet he secretly has an EVDO card that he uses in airports while he's snooping on conversations, since no one wants to talk directly to the old crab.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/01/2007 09:40:00 AM

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