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The Assassination of Wi-Fi 258

Posted by Zonk
from the sniper-has-range-on-the-target dept.
justelite writes "John C. Dvorak from PC Magazine has up an article looking at the new strategy of American cell-phone-service companies. From article: 'There is mounting evidence that the cellular service companies are going to do whatever they can to kill Wi-Fi. After all, it is a huge long-term threat to them. We've seen that the route to success in America today is via public gullibility and general ignorance. And these cell-phone-service companies are no dummies.'"
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The Assassination of Wi-Fi

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  • How appropriate... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sconeu (64226) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:39PM (#18231232) Homepage Journal
    I got "Nothing to see here. Move along".
    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:57PM (#18231416) Homepage

      I got "Nothing to see here. Move along".
      Offtopic?

      Sounds about fair. Summary makes the article sound interesting. In reality, it says that WiFi is going to kick the mobile phone networks' asses in the near future, they might not like this, and it suggests vaguely that they might buy some politicians and run some misleading ads. That's it; there's no revealing of any great conspiracy or anything.
      • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:08PM (#18231552) Journal
        There are two kinds of readers in the world. Those who hate Dvorak's writings, and those who haven't read his writings, yet. He reminds of day-time TV show hosts.

        Does he make a point with his article? Not really. He writes nothing that hasn't already been known by anyone who makes it a point to read anything technical. *shrug*
        • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:31PM (#18232342)
          I only wish Dvorak were right... it would mean WiFi is a viable threat to cellphone companies. I hate US cell service to the point that I don't have a cellphone. They seem diametrically opposed to the very idea of the Internet - provide a data link and the applications will follow. For some reason people who would never think of paying per email happily pay per SMS (which is email), and pay several dollars for a ringtone. And since cellphones are so useful and therefore profitable, the current companies and their crappy policies will never get out of the way for better ones.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by vought (160908)
            There is mounting evidence that the cellular service companies are going to do whatever they can to kill Wi-Fi. After all, it is a huge long-term threat to them.

            Of course. They killed Metricom - with the help of incompetent management - because of the threat of Metricom's 3G speeds, which were delivered in 2001, covering millions of people, but with little subscriber uptake.

            Telecoms were implicated in the reluctance of municipalities to allow Metricom right of way, the endless FUD about 3G being delivered
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          There are two kinds of readers in the world. Those who hate Dvorak's writings, and those who haven't read his writings, yet.

          Amen to that. From the summary:

          We've seen that the route to success in America today is via public gullibility and general ignorance.

          Who epitomizes that better than Dvorak?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Dvorak is more of the lay-man informer than the god of all things technical.

          He's doing something for people, informing them, but he's just not doing anything for us - the nerds. So, this post really doesn't fit on slashdot. Since it isn't for nerds and it doesn't matter.

          Just my two cents.
        • That he's a completely self-involved disdainful jackass.

          "A good portion of the public with cell phones that can access the Net cannot grasp the concept in their brain, since going on the Net usually means sitting at a keyboard, looking at a big screen, and typing stuff."

          Perhaps his brain simply cannot grasp that most people couldn't care less about being net-accessible 24/7--for ANY purpose.
      • by utopianfiat (774016) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:20PM (#18231688) Journal
        tl;dr, dude, tl;dr.
        executive summary:
        The first part was funny, you know, the part about John C. Dvorak writing an article. Stopped reading after that.
  • Security. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "From article: 'There is mounting evidence that the cellular service companies are going to do whatever they can to kill Wi-Fi. After all, it is a huge long-term threat to them"

    Poor security will kill Wi-Fi.
    • Re:Security. (Score:5, Informative)

      by GoMMiX (748510) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:52PM (#18231366)
      Poor security didn't stop cellular adoption.

      That aside, the article is off-base in my opinion. WiFi seems more likely to become a boost to cellular usage - expanding networks and lowering costs for providers. (IE: They combine their cellular service to work with WiFi VOIP - when a customer is in WiFi range, calls go over cheaper VOIP - when no WiFi is available it goes cellular.)

      I believe there was a related article a couple of weeks ago where Google (?) was petitioning the FCC to require cellular networks to open their services to competitors - my speculation at the time was that they wanted to offer a full WiFi VOIP solution where you had cellular service when no WiFi was available.

      To make my babble short, I think WiFi will expand cellular usage - not the other way around.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by MightyMartian (840721)
        If Dvorak had taken about ten minutes to learn something about the differences in infrastructure between cell services and WiFi (hint, it has something to do with frequencies), he would have never have written this abortion. Or maybe he wouldn't have. The guy is a troll of monumental proportions, but instead of treating him like you would your average streetcorner religious zealot, somehow or other this guy keeps getting press. He's completely divorced from reality.
        • Re:Security. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by troll -1 (956834) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:07PM (#18232148)
          If Dvorak had taken about ten minutes to learn something about the differences in infrastructure between cell services and WiFi (hint, it has something to do with frequencies) ...

          Yes, that's right.

          In physics there's measurement called "skin depth" which is the distance a wave travels before it's power level drops by 1/e or about 1/3. IIRC from my old physics 110A-B at Berkeley, it's something like wavelength/2*pi. So for higher frequencies (wavelength*freq=constant) the power drop of is greater. 802.x devices don't have much of a range because the FCC limits their frequencies in the GHz range.

          A way to overcome this problem (partly) is to increase the power, but FCC uses the old 'inteference' argument to prevent this. The FCC allows 802.x devices only about 1mW/channel.

          Cell phone companies on the other hand pay the FCC billions for the privilege of having exclusive rights (in the form of licenses) to low frequency 'prime' prime parts of the spectrum and with permission to use orders of magnitude more power than than 802.x devices.

          Although there's the problem for bandwidth (think baud) of being inversely proportional to frequency (the lower the freqency the longer the range but the less Mbytes/second you get), there are some techniques to overcome this and which the cell phone companies themselves use.

          Now, if the FCC would only set aside a small part of that 'prime' spectrum for experimental devices and allow those devices to use the same power as cell phone networks, then perhaps we could begin to experiment with a new kind of network.

          When you look at what some folks are doing with mesh networking [wikipedia.org] and you combine that with higher power, lower frequency for 802.x-type devices, you begin to realize the potential of having a different kind of network, one that is neutral, one were you pay a wireless ISP for 'bandwidth' (just like you do for the wired Internet) and you access that network, with a device of your own choosing and use the bandwith you buy for voice, Internet, email, messages, video streaming, etc.. without any restrictions from the provider (unlike cell phone networks).

          Of course, the cell phone companies are so influencial in Congress and pay so much money to government, it's difficult to see how this could become a reaility any time soon.

          • Some minor details (Score:5, Interesting)

            by LinearBob (258695) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:05AM (#18233548)
            You make an interesting technical argument, but there are a few details I think you missed. The 2.4 GHz and the 5.6 GHz bands are license free ISM bands. They allow ANY device to operate, within reason, provided the device conforms to certain power radiation limits and stays within the ISM band limits. There are many different kinds of RF devices operating in ISM bands including (but not limited to) diathermy machines, induction heaters, cordless telephones, and microwave ovens.

            There is a physical chemistry reason why certain frequencies were designated for the ISM bands; they happen to be frequencies that are not as useful as other (similar) frequencies for communication purposes because those frequencies represent electrical resonances in commonly occurring atmospheric gas molecules. These resonances cause excessive path loss in what would otherwise be usable free space paths. Water is one molecule that causes excessive path loss, but only at certain frequencies. The fact some of the ISM bands coincide with water molecule resonances is not an accident. Ever wonder why your microwave oven operates at 2.4 GHz in the ISM band and not some other frequency? The radio frequency energy absorbed by all those water molecules has to go somewhere....and the conversion of RF energy into molecular vibration (heat) is a good candidate for the cause of the excessive path loss at 2.4 GHz compared to path losses at 2.3 GHz or 2.5GHz.

            The cellular companies all operate on licensed frequencies for which they have paid "Big Bucks" to the Federal Government and they need to make a return on their "Investment" for their shareholders. BTW, the fees the cellular companies pay to the FCC have been used by Congress to balance the Federal budget. There is a long story here that I won't go into now about spectrum use, but suffice it to say, the creation of the Cellular telephone" bands was not the first time, nor the last time, that Congress has "auctioned" off parts of the RF spectrum to the highest bidder, spectrum previously used for other purposes.

            The cellular phone companies routinely disable features built into the hardware and software in many of the newer cell phones because they hope to force their customers into paying exorbitant prices for "enabling" those features, even if these are features that actually have almost no inherent cost. SMS is one example. SMS stands for "Short Message Service" and is actually the use of a very small portion of the bit rate available to cell phone users. SMS bits are like "space available" seats on airliners, they are used to fill otherwise partly empty data packets, so SMS should cost users almost nothing, but SMS users pay a higher price for SMS bits than they do for voice data bits when they talk.

            I think the reason for this is consumer ignorance. Kids frequently "texting" each other have no idea how SMS works, nor do they know how much bandwidth they are NOT using when they send SMS messages to each other. SMS does not even have guaranteed delivery, unlike some other wireless messaging protocols. But don't forget that a corporation is legally obligated to make as much money as possible for its stockholders.

            The infrastructure cost of an ad hoc 802.11x mesh network is "unfair competition" as far as the cellular operators are concerned because 802.11x access point costs only a few hundred dollars each. Site rent for them is also low because they usually are located on top of streetlight poles. But the cellular phone operators must pay rent for their sites on the order of $1500 each per month, on top of hardware investments in the many thousands of dollars. This "overhead" cost for the cellular operators must come from somewhere, or they will go out of business.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rtb61 (674572)
              So any government representatives that sold off the spectrum to the highest should be taken out the back and quietly put out of our misery. Why the hell the didn't auction it upon the basis of who would provide the cheapest service to the public, oh wait, I know the answer to that, GREED.
            • The radio frequency energy absorbed by all those water molecules has to go somewhere....and the conversion of RF energy into molecular vibration (heat) is a good candidate for the cause of the excessive path loss at 2.4 GHz compared to path losses at 2.3 GHz or 2.5GHz.

              Only problem is that the water resonance is something like 20 GHz. I've an industrial scale (1 MW) microwave oven running in the 900 MHz ISM band and I read about someone cooking hamburgers with a cavity tuned to 144 MHz.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Stewie241 (1035724)
            Although there's the problem for bandwidth (think baud) of being inversely proportional to frequency (the lower the freqency the longer the range but the less Mbytes/second you get), there are some techniques to overcome this and which the cell phone companies themselves use.

            This doesn't make sense. If bandwidth was inversely proportional to frequency, then the lower the frequency the more MBytes/sec you would get. But bandwidth and frequency are actually two separate issues. The frequency refers to the
            • by troll -1 (956834)
              "Although there's the problem for bandwidth (think baud) of being inversely proportional to frequency (the lower the freqency the longer the range but the less Mbytes/second you get), there are some techniques to overcome this and which the cell phone companies themselves use."

              This doesn't make sense.

              You are correct. It should have read "bandwidth proportional to frequency". Thank you. Bandwidth here meaning baud/sec. The faster I oscillate, the faster I can deliver information. As in morse code. The
          • In physics there's measurement called "skin depth" which is the distance a wave travels before it's power level drops by 1/e or about 1/3. IIRC from my old physics 110A-B at Berkeley,

            If you are talking about attenuation over distance, you are using the wrong formula. Have you checked the wavelength of sunlight? Have you checked the distance? Regardless of wavelength, the proper formula to use is not attenuation but power over area. Doubling the distance from the source (assume point source) decreases th
        • your hatred of Dvorak is greater than your hatred of cell phone companies + your love of municipal wifi.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bjourne (1034822)
        That aside, the article is off-base in my opinion. WiFi seems more likely to become a boost to cellular usage - expanding networks and lowering costs for providers. (IE: They combine their cellular service to work with WiFi VOIP - when a customer is in WiFi range, calls go over cheaper VOIP - when no WiFi is available it goes cellular.)

        How do you price it? If I have a WiFi capable device loaded with VOIP software that I connect either via my own, or an open access point to someone else using a similar se
      • Agree with you. Doesn't the future iPhone tout doing just this? It would mean that Cingular (ATT) is going to go this way too.
      • I believe there was a related article a couple of weeks ago where Google (?) was petitioning the FCC to require cellular networks to open their services to competitors - my speculation at the time was that they wanted to offer a full WiFi VOIP solution where you had cellular service when no WiFi was available.

        It was Skype [slashdot.org] that petitioned the FCC.
    • However, I'm not sure how anyone could "kill Wi-Fi." What qualifies as "killing" it? You're not going to get hardware companies to stop manufacturing it, and that's more or less all you need for it to be perpetuated. Dvorak (unsurprisingly) doesn't address this either.

      This whole article was completely idiotic.
    • Re:Security. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034) on Monday March 05, 2007 @03:09AM (#18234756) Homepage
      No. Wide adoption will kill wifi. In fact it is already killing it.

      Wifi has a very bad frequency reuse capability. The 12 (13 in EU) channels overlap so you in fact you have 3-4 useable frequencies when dealing with wifi-to-wifi interference. On the average, in a suburbian residential neighbourhood you have more than 4 neighbours within the high interference range (higher distances in the US are compensated by the higher default power). There are up to 16 more which provide extra background noise. City deployments are even worse.

      So in the current form of the protocol wifi is selfregulating. The more people use it the more it sucks. As a result its adoption will level off at some point and people will stop buying it. This will be long before it reaches universal adoption.

      So in fact, wifi is not a threat for operators. Their marketing depts may jump up and down from time to time. The jumping stops once they ask their own frequency planning and modelling departments (and every cellco has these, deploying cellular is quite math heavy). It stops because every time they get an answer "Due to bad frequency reuse it is bound to become useless long before ubiquity".

      The only way to change it is to completely redesign the MAC for frequency reuse while on the same channel. Either "speak only spoken-to" strategy or some CDMA-like coding strategy where interference on the same channel is considerably less relevant. Unfortunately the industry groups doing the IEEE work are not doing any of that. They are hell bent on pushing the bandwith and do not want to deal with what will become the ultimate protocol killer in the long run.
  • Next week: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Angostura (703910) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:42PM (#18231272)
    ... how the purveyors of bottled water would like to see kitchen sinks banned.
    • Yep.

      Adapt or perish. I love how the summary says these companies are somehow smart for trying to do this. It's not an uphill battle for them, it's like trying to crane-kick a grizzly bear. You might pull off the kick, but you'll die for it. They're digging their own business graves.

      TLF
  • But... it's Dvorak (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IceCreamGuy (904648) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:43PM (#18231282) Homepage
    If pretty much anyone else said this, I might take it seriously, however, it's coming from John C. Dvorak.
    • by 1point618 (919730) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:00PM (#18231468)
      He himself admitted to using "dubious facts" in trying to prove his case... which is why I've tagged this article with "dubiousfacts" and read the rest of it after he said that with a grain of salt. He made huge generalizations about how people see the internet that I've never seen, and he himself is confusing the difference between the web and the internet.
      • by Ontology42 (964454) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:44PM (#18232450)
        Well;

        1. It's poorly written

        2. PC Magazine does not hold any status for me, hence the kilo of salt is still burning in my belly.

        Now, let's take a look at the general populace, and wifi as a whole. Cellular cards have to be bought and paid for over and above the laptop. Pretty much any laptop out today has an 802.11a/b/g chipset built into it and all versions of microsoft windows, be it XP or Vista will ask you if you want to "connect" to a public wireless network. so much so that it's considered a security risk by most companies.

        Enter 3.5G and 4G. I'm no pundit but i've been in this industry long enough to see a failing standard a mile out, yes cell networks are liscenced, expensive and slow when compared with 802.11. Bell in Canada is rolling out 802.11 AP's on thier public phones. The cost of licensing the bands for 3.5G and 4G from the FCC and the CRTC in put the implementation of these networks into the billions. Where as a good metropolitan wifi implemenation will cost you back a few million.

        It's called pervasive availability, and John needs to understand that people may be "STUPD" on a whole but he really should take his head out of his behind. if you have 3000+ laptops at any given moment and somones standing in a public area using it and they do not have a cellular card because they are "STUPID" they will proabaly notice the whole "Wifi" notice in XP when they sit in a coffee shop and start writeing, or when they are in a park outside.

        EV-DO, EDGE and all those other toys require pre-requisite knoledge, ie: the client has to go out and become aware of these technologies before they can use them, they only compete where you have somone that flys a LOT.

        My opinion shouldn't count as I am known to play with all the wireless networks I can find, and given the opportunity I'll use the 802.11. I guess i'm not stupid.

    • by xigxag (167441)
      I think he's accidentally right. Even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day.

      (More than that and it'll cost ya. $4K to be precise.)

  • by ehack (115197) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:45PM (#18231296) Journal
    By definition, PEOPLE alect muicipal governments. If they want wifi they can ask for it. If they're too dumb to ask for it, they're too dumb to deserve it. Same goes for sewers and drinkable water.

    • by Brandybuck (704397) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:05PM (#18231524) Homepage Journal
      Municpal governments don't provide food, yet the grocery stores are full. They don't provide clothing, yet I'm wearing a shirt. And unless you're homeless and it's a cold night, they don't provide shelter. Yet here I am with a roof over my head. Food, clothing and shelter are FAR more necessary to my well being than wifi, yet the market manages to provide those necessities to me without the help of municipal government.

      For some classes of products, such as sewers and drinkable water, it may make sense to put your local conniving pocket-lining councilman in charge. But I'm far from convinced that wifi falls under that category.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Omnifarious (11933) *

        I am thoroughly convinced by the existing WiFi infrastructure. Right now if I want complete coverage over the city I either have to spring for some stupid WiMax garbage with awful bandwidth and a highly centralized provider, or I have to pay umpteen million different little fees to get access in this place or that palce. Airports are the absolute worst for this BTW.

        This is not a workable situation that will lead anywhere that's good for the consumer in the long run.

        I've come to the conclusion that the n

        • Law and Order (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MikeFM (12491)
          What we need is laws to protect private users who share their bandwidth and standards in APs to make it easy for them to do so and to create a standard way for people to connect. An open wirless AP in every home and business should just be expected. Let the users create the network themselves if you really want what is best for the consumer. Of course businesses will cry foul over their lost chance to squeeze every penny out of the consumer and government will cry foul because it'd make it much harder to co
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mmurphy000 (556983)

        Citizens in many municipalities have much more competition for the goods and services you cite (food, clothing, shelter) than they do broadband Internet access. Moreover, in many municipalities, the rules that govern competition in broadband are natural (e.g., only so much fiber in available rights-of-way) or are set by larger political entities (e.g., state telecommunications regulatory commissions).

        So, when you say:

        yet the market manages to provide those necessities to me without the help of municipal

      • by bigpat (158134)

        For some classes of products, such as sewers and drinkable water, it may make sense to put your local conniving pocket-lining councilman in charge. But I'm far from convinced that wifi falls under that category.

        I agree, they should not be in charge. But there is little chance of that. FCC has jurisdiction and they aren't going to let the localities regulate WiFi anytime soon. What local governments can do is to coordinate WiFi coverage and since they often control utility polls, then they are in the best position to place wifi hotspots in key location. As for privacy concerns, well the phone companies have shown that they are pretty willing to hand over all of our phone records to the government without any w

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        It's called infrastructure. The stuff that everyone shares, but there's some reason (like it being incredibly inefficient or a huge initial investment) to have three different systems installed. That's why there's one set of sewer pipes and not multiples.

        Ubiquitous wifi fits that definition pretty well. Your house, food, clothing? Not so much -- everyone wants their own t-shirt.
        • I fail to see the need for a single wifi provider. We're talking about digital wireless, not about multiple phone companies trying to negotiate the use of a single strand of copper wire. You can easily and effortlessly have multiple wifi providers with overlapping coverage.

          We manage this with cellphones quite well, so what makes wifi so different? Besides being a couple orders of magnitude cheaper, that is.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)
            To start with, wifi hotspots require some sort of landline access. That means running cable, or leasing someone elses. A LOT of cable. You need a lot more hotspots than you do cell towers.

            I don't think I'd hold up the situation with cell phones as a good example anyway. It seems they're expensive, and getting more so (plans were way cheaper when I got my first phone at the dawn of PCS), there are multiple standards so the carriers get to lock you in, and they use various unfair tactics to lock you in ev
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Deliveranc3 (629997)
        me without the help of municipal government.

        Roads, Police, Electricity, Hydro, Banking protections, credit card protections. Need I go on... Try again dude.

        Are these libertarians starting to bother anyone else?
      • The air and water are public resources. Privatization of them is not a good thing, if you can't accept that stop reading and please shoot yourself now.

        Sewers must use common pipes for many reasons, water as well. This requires a "neutral" area of land for interconnections. Nearly all roads are a public resource (well, the land is.) Typically, the pipes run on the land the roads also do. Depending on the wisdom & corruption of your local government determines how well it is managed.

        Using the SAME LOGIC w
    • by Bastian (66383) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:06PM (#18231536)
      It's really not that simple. I used to live in a fairly small town (Galesburg, IL) where there was really only one provider for high-speed internet access. As a result, the price of broadband was very high, prohibitively so for most the residents in the town, which had a relatively depressed economy.

      Several years back, the local government tried to set up a municipal ISP to provide cheap broadband for no profit. The final decision of whether or not to go for it was left to a referendum. In the months leading up to it, the local cable company (who would lose a lot of money if this went through) ran a massive campaign to turn public opinion against the municipal broadband project. At the same time, the law did not allow the city to run a similar campaign in favor of the plan. So the only information being disseminated to most voters was completely anti (FUD, mostly), and few of them got much of a chance to hear the other side of the story, let alone a reasoned and balanced overview of the pros and cons of municipal broadband.

      Naturally, it got voted down. And it wasn't because the electorate was dumb. Due to the nature of the law and the fact that money is speech and the cable company had all the money, most voters simply were not informed on the issue - and it's a blue collar town, so most the people simply didn't have enough knowledge of technology to really be able to inform themselves. Maybe the plan still would have broken down had the whole situation not been a complete failure of democracy, but saying it's as simple as the electorate being able to ask for it if they're smart enough is a gross oversimplifcation of reality.
    • Wow: harsh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EMB Numbers (934125) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:10PM (#18231574)
      When you say "if they're too dumb to ask for it, they're too dumb to deserve it. Same goes for sewers and drinkable water" I have very mixed feelings.

      Most western Europeans didn't ask for sewers and drinkable water; they had them foisted upon them at tax payer expense in the mid 19th century. That is certainly true of the first modern large scale sewer system which was built in London. "The transcript traces more than 250 years of human misery, due largely to ignorance of the hazards of poor sanitation. Citizens, physicians, politicians, inventors and police provided vivid horror stories of 'miasmas, plagues and sudden death" in the homes of London.'" http://swopnet.com/engr/londonsewers/londontext1.h tml [swopnet.com]

      Ignorance is deadly but curable. Ignorance about the importance of sewers and drinkable water may seem inconceivable to many of us, but such ignorance in rampant around the world.

      When I watch documentaries about poor ghettos in latin America, inevitably there are toddlers playing in open cesspools and teenagers standing around unemployed, uneducated, and idle. I see that and wonder why the teenagers aren't put to work digging sewers or at least keeping toddlers out of them. For the price of the cigarettes the teenagers smoke, children could be fed and sewers built and clean water supplies maintained. I always think to myself that people who prioritize cigarettes over sewers get what they deserve just like people generally get the government they deserve.

      But then I am more charitable and assume that people live in horrid conditions because of ignorance. Ignorance causes poverty and death.

      There was a documentary (I think on 20/20) about hunger in the U.S.A. A father was being interviewed and he explained that toward the end of the month, there is no bread left and the children have to go hungry for days. During the interview, the father was standing in front of his satellite dish and smoking. For the price of one pack of cigarettes, the children could have eaten basic stables like bread, potatoes, and canned vegetables for several days. For the price of the satellite dish and its likely monthly subscription, the children could have been clothed and fed.

      I couldn't help thinking that the father's priorities were a little skewed and sad.

      • I see that and wonder why the teenagers aren't put to work digging sewers or at least keeping toddlers out of them. For the price of the cigarettes the teenagers smoke, children could be fed and sewers built and clean water supplies maintained.

        Trench work is demanding and dangerous even for the pro.

        Excavation cave-ins are a major source of fatalities within the construction industry. Trenching accidents on U.S. construction sites account for an estimated 100 fatalities per year, with at least 11 times as

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AusIV (950840)

      By definition, PEOPLE alect muicipal governments. If they want wifi they can ask for it. If they're too dumb to ask for it, they're too dumb to deserve it. Same goes for sewers and drinkable water.

      There is nothing about election in the definition of municipal governments, and neither muicipal nor alect even have definitions.

      Drinkable water isn't generally provided by municipal governments, it's treated and provided by private water companies. I'm not sure who provides sewage services, but it's something

      • by Khaed (544779)
        If someone doesn't want to pay for sewage, they don't get that option because of the health risks it imposes on those around them.

        Yep. Even where there is no sewer, you have to have a septic tank (basically, for anyone unaware, an underground tank that holds turds and every few years must be pumped out -- what must be an awful shitty job, pardon the pun -- by a guy with a truck carrying a bigger tank for turds), else the health department will crawl up your ass.

        For the curious, it costs somewhere in the ran
        • by terrymr (316118)
          Actually a septic tank provides a home for bacteria & enzymes which break down the waste.
          • by Khaed (544779)
            Well, yes. I've seen plastic containers of what appears to be sawdust designed to be flushed down the toilet in order to help speed up (or jumpstart) the process.
  • hi (Score:2, Funny)

    by vimbuza (602901)
    wifi is teh good.
  • by canuck57 (662392) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:55PM (#18231388)

    They might actually kill WiFi provided they can get their prices down to $49 worth of hardware and the cost of a land line, supply at least 2 computers and more bandwidth, enough for video, or at least as much as WiFi.

    So when I can use 3 computers for $29/mo I am game... but forgive me if I don't hold my breath waiting. Oh, and skip the roaming and by the minute charges. And can I share videos with the neighbors for free...without being monitored?

    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Actually I can get wireless internet everywhere for $10.50 a month right now. a nextel iM1000 pcmcia card and a boost mobile SIM card gives me unlimited internet wherever I get Nextel service. Granted it's at 19.200Kbps, higher if I get lucky and am near a cell tower. Nextel's real offering is $29.95 a month, Cingular and the rest charge $60.00+ a month for only slightly better service in most places and great service in very few places, in fact only in places I will never go to.

      I prefer abusing a compan
  • by agntvbb (1071702) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:56PM (#18231402)
    ...Like GM killing the municipal trolley systems of the 50s. The idea that business can provide a "more efficient" delivery of some product is often total and complete BS.
    • by feepness (543479) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:15PM (#18231626) Homepage
      ...Like GM killing the municipal trolley systems of the 50s. The idea that business can provide a "more efficient" delivery of some product is often total and complete BS.

      You're right. Government has too much power available for business to come in and take advantage of.
      • Actually, I don't see why businesses would want government to stay out of their matters. After all, when you look a little at recent regulations, you'll see that more and more laws are geared towards keeping you, the customer, from doing something that would cut into their profits.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by westlake (615356)
      Like GM killing the municipal trolley systems of the 50s

      These trolley lines had managed to limp through WWII but were in deep trouble long before. The middle class abandoned the trolley as quickly as the mass produced Ford and Chevy made it convenient and affordable.

  • I'm not convinced that the big, evil cell phone companys are really trying to kill WiFi. Nor do I think they will. But if the author does, where are the examples. Where is the smoking gun that some cell phone company or other has petitioned a municipality to kill the free WiFi in the community? An add that only shows that Sprint is trying to sell their product?

    In all honesty, I think the author is having a slow news day and doesn't have anything else to whine (sorry, write) about. But then, I've
    • The same major investors in WiFi companies are the same major investors in Telcos are the same major investors in a majority portion of the stock market.

      The only thing which is happening here is the creation of an illusion in order to exploit the American consumer's inability to keep up with the markets as well as the major investors.

      In short: We're being milked.
    • frankly, WiFi won't take off the way most people thing it will simply because most American's aren't wired to "fair share" resources in such a manner. Municipal WiFi may work out, but only in large public areas... downtown areas, libraries, public buildings. Even in my little Midwest city, that's only a few square miles in size, regular Wi-Fi range isn't nearly enough for more than 10-20 houses per spot under the best conditions. We're far to spread out for that to work. On a telco level it could work.
  • toronto and rogers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BRUTICUS (325520) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:00PM (#18231452)
    Interesting....as soon as Rogers telecommunications here in toronto learned that the city announced they would be offering free wifi internet for a year and then paid.... Rogers retorted and announced their own wi-fi service... as if they had to pull it out of their ass
    • Woo hoo. This is exactly the kind of thing that needs to happen more often.

      If there was wifi service everywhere there would be no need for cell phone coverage anywhere and hopefully then Rogers will be forced to actually create some competitive and innovative plans or else sell his shitty company for scraps.
  • Alrighty... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by feepness (543479) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:09PM (#18231568) Homepage
    We've seen that the route to success in America today is via public gullibility and general ignorance.

    How do we mark the summary as a troll?

    I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but come on.
  • From the summary: "And these cell-phone-service companies are no dummies."

    However, George Vaccaro proves otherwise. [slashdot.org]
  • by Nooface (526234) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:19PM (#18231676) Homepage
    This editorial in Forbes entitled "Wireless Shootout: Suits vs. Cowboys" [forbes.com] points out that cellular carriers and next-generation WiFi technology may be replaying the past competition between mainframes ("suits") and PCs ("cowboys"). The cellular carriers are inherently limited in their ability to adapt to modern wireless requirements because they operate under three fundamental constraints: a build-out mentality, vertical integration, and complicated pricing. The author points out that this same mindset ultimately caused mainframe suppliers to lose their dominance to the more nimble PCs in mainstream computing, and predicts that for the same reasons, more adaptable next-generation wireless technology such as WiMAX [wikipedia.org] and ZigBee [wikipedia.org] will ultimately prevail over cellular infrastructure in the future.
    • Watch for this vertical integration to change in the near future with MVNO agreements. Verizon is trying hard to control every aspect of their network, much like AOL. Some other companies, Sprint in particular, is trying to focus on creating the best network possible and then lease time to other companies (like disney, for example, if you want a disney phone; or Virgin mobile). That way, they don't have to interface directly with customers, they can focus on the technical aspects and let the MVNO compani
    • by drmerope (771119) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @11:27PM (#18233306)
      complicated pricing.

      Bingo. The real problem with cell-phone data service is the ridiculous pricing regime. 10 cents for a 160 character text message? Get real. Lets suppose for a moment that audio consumes 10kbps and its latency sensitive. One minute retails for 30 cents... 10k*60/8b... you get the picture. Data rates are out of this world, disconnected from reality. That's the real story.

  • Muni WiFi sucks, and the reasons are many. Nonetheless, free calls are the direct enemy of the mobiles/cell companies.

    The reason Muni WiFi sucks is that it's haphazardly implemented with the weakest of security, and no session management (802.11n/x) to cross boundaries. But the native 'possibly-free-if-slow' portion means that native VoIP can work well. Uh oh, easy to understand why fixed, not-very-mobile free calls has them worried.

    But 3G and '4G' also uniformly suck-- yet have a decent build out, no lost
  • WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cowtamer (311087) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:34PM (#18231838) Journal
    I'm sorry, but this article says nothing more than it's title.

    There are no:

    1) Facts
    2) Specific instances of any wireless company activity
    3) Conspiracy theories about how they might be going about this...

    While it may be true that widespread wi-fi may threaten a part of the cell phone provider business model, the article makes no mention of any company doing anything about it (save the introduction of a couple data access cards).

    The article also does not address the common-sense fact that Wi-Fi (as it currently exists) can't replace the type of coverage that the cell phone company can give you.

    It seems that Dvorak's editors have even lower standards than those of Slashdot!!

  • The commonly-available "LINKSYS" Wi-Fi service won't be going away any time soon.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Unfortunately, with the advent of Hardware Version 5 which provides an adventurous 50% the quality -- and I mean this literally: it has half the RAM, half the memory and a weaker processor -- for a quarter the value thanks to their A-mazing VxWorks firmware... that service will not last much longer either.

      I phoned them to ask why my router kept having to be reset and the answer was, essentially, "You are using it too much." Yes, that's right: The other two ports on the back of that router, and both of those
  • by Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:48PM (#18231960) Homepage
    Go here

    http://www.fon.com/en/ [fon.com]

    get a damn wifi router, stick it on your cable/dsl (they give them away sometimes, too, but a few $ is worth it), now, you can get wifi from everyone else who is sharing their 'net.

    I can walk a few blocks in most cities and get online. Help us (and yourself) out, m'kay?
    • by battjt (9342)
      Yah, and devices like that being given away with every cable connection or DSL connection have raised the floor in 2.4 Ghz noise. Now my WiFi based ISP has a much smaller delivery area. I lost about half my customers due to increased noise. Mission accomplished.

      Joe
  • I remember well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by djupedal (584558) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:48PM (#18231978)
    ...same as when they killed CB radio. My response then is the same now - 300 watts of cold steel Palomar SSB amplifier.
  • Where's the beef? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110)
    So, "There is mounting evidence that the cellular service companies are going to do whatever they can to kill Wi-Fi." What evidence, where? No mention of any such evidence in the article, just some business analysis.
  • by toonerh (518351) * on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:57PM (#18232044)
    The article's title is the "Killing of WiFi" and there not one word about how the telco's are going to do it. Jam the 2.4 GHz ISM band? Sue cities that offer free WiFi? Get the Congress to ban free WiFi?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From what I recall, they generally sue the city and/or run smear campaigns when possible. Basically, anything goes. It's probably illegal to jam wifi directly, but what about a bunch of WAPs that don't go anywhere?
  • Ummm... well sure in theory 802.11a and g can do 54 Mbps, practically you're doing very well if you get 15 Mbps on them.

    And most of the current "free" Wifi options, e.g. Google's offering in Mountain View, are capped at 1 Mbps (some of this is a kowtow to the local telephone companies). So edge cards can compete with the "free" offerings, at least to date. Also, coverage of the edge cards is substantially better if you are moving.

  • Silly John C. Dvorak (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dopenkly (1071658) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:41PM (#18232418)
    Are cell phone companies powerful?
    Yes, of course

    Do other companies, with political pull, have an interest in more global wifi access?
    Yes, of course...

    Will more global wifi access be free?

    Not likely, but it probably will be available. Cell phone networks surely can profit from this and they already do. Isn't it lucrative to offer a cellular connection to the internet and then provide wifi from that location (shouldn't this be obvious to John)? I do believe that AT&T offered to provide me with overpriced wi-fi access the last time I walked into Barnes and Noble. I'm failing to find anything relevant in the entire article.
  • That's the main reason you don't see wifi in many phones these days - providers are worried that customers will use VOIP instead of their long distance service.
  • Yet another sensationalist headline. Nobody's trying to kill the wifi connection you have in your home, or the one you get at the coffee shop. Dvorak thinks that he's on to something that telcos are trying to prevent municipal governments (or Google, since TFA does mention San Francisco) from setting up free WiFi. This has been covered [slashdot.org] before [slashdot.org].
  • by toygar.ozturk (1058208) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @10:59PM (#18233100)

    4 years ago, my professor for personal mobile communications class said wi-fi and cellular complements each other. It was his first year at school after 5-6 years of experience in one of the biggest cellular (hardware) companies. Later, he corrected himself by saying both sides are trying to kill each-other: cellular is trying to provide higher data rates (and hence WCDMA etc.) and wi-fi is trying to incorporate mobility and hand-off which are essential for voice communications (and hence WiMAX, IEEE 802.20 etc.). I believe at some point both will merge if the IP rights issues could be solved.

    Competition is always good for both end user and for engineers (and engineers to be like myself).

  • by DogDude (805747)
    Well, there is the possibility that if enough altruists and idealists open up their own WAP's, then there would be literally nothing that anybody could do about it. The local telcos and governments and companies could battle all they want, but there'd be no point if smart people at least in larger cities formed their own ad-hoc networks. Who wouldn't use free ad-hoc networks? Just about anything you want to do is encryptable these days, anyway.
  • Is it just me, or is Dvorak like the Ric Romero of Slashdot, or something,... ?
  • Kill it in the home, they need to kill it municapally. Once there is wifi Everywhere for free people will all start using wifi phones. No more cell phones no more crazy expensive cell phone service.

    QED.

    Considering the sorry state of VOIP and wifi-VOIP phones I don't think they have much to worry about though :(

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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