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Wireless Networking Businesses Communications Hardware

The Assassination of Wi-Fi 258

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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  • Security. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @07:42PM (#18231268)
    "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:QOS (Score:3, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:32PM (#18231824) Journal
    They really are two fundementally different technologies. WiFi isn't really designed for roaming, and it sure isn't much good at any distance for non-line-of-sight without raising power levels far beyond what anyone is allowed to do. Since WiFi actually wants to deliver a meaningful amount of bandwidth, that's just the way it is. Cellular networks, on the other hand, don't have the bandwidth issues, since voice communications and text messaging are hardly in the same league with surfing the Internet for pr0n at 1280x1024 in 32 bit color. Dvorak just pulls this stuff out of his ass. He doesn't give a shit whether it represents reality, has any evidence, or even is conceivable.
    The fact is that cell and WiFi aren't mutually exclusive, and in large urban centers where one can expect good coverage, phones will doubtless be able to access IP networks directly, whereas where there isn't coverage, or where a guy is just making a phone call, the cellular network will do just fine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:37PM (#18231868)
    Do you really think there's no cell tower at less than 100m from you?

    The nearest cell tower is approximately 2 miles from here. No, I'm not in San Francisco. Inner city WiFi networks currently have more problems with too many access points competing for the scarce bandwidth. It's an unlicensed band...

    I can keep my connections at the Faculty I work at

    My experience with WiFi handovers in completely controlled networks differs. Not only does the computer not detect loss of signal fast enough, the renegotiations regularly kill open TCP connections. Nothing that couldn't be fixed, of course, but right now it's unusable for mobile applications. Even if you fix the handovers within one controlled network, you still need handovers at administrative boundaries. The problem is amplified by the short range.

    (2Mbps for stationary systems, wow!) you get with 3G

    I'll take working 2Mbps where I am instead of spotty 20Mbps where I am not. Like I said, different product.

    it provides the same service, uses the same technology.

    No, 3G provides medium range service and operates on licensed (read: exclusive) bands. The network is homogenous and enables seamless handovers in the whole covered area. WiFi is a local service on an unlicensed band with heavy interference. Coverage requires many more APs, so it will only be available in densely populated areas and that's where WiFi also faces most of the competition for the bandwidth. There are only 3 non-overlapping channels, all of which can also be used for private networks which interfere with municipal WiFi service. They're both digital and they're both networking technologies. That doesn't mean they're not in completely different markets.
  • by Bob Cat - NYMPHS ( 313647 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @08:48PM (#18231960) Homepage
    Go here []

    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 Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Sunday March 04, 2007 @09:20PM (#18232248)
    If the answer is "no" or "I don't know" then I may be looking for alternatives.

    Yes, its called VPN and to be honest if you're using public/semi-public wi-fi hotspots without it then you deserve whatever happens to you.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @01:22AM (#18234088)
    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.

  • by henrick1888 ( 1071806 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @03:07AM (#18234740)
    "Next time, please document yourself beforehand. It doesn't matter your being moderated Insightful when your post if actually off base"
    Wow, quite a comment for a post with multiple technical errors.

    "3G works on top of IPv6"
    WCDMA networks (such as Cingular's) don't even use IP for data routing within the network.
    CMDA network (such as Verizon & Sprint) use Mobile IP for packet data routing but not for voice. It is not IPv6.

    "it provides the same service, uses the same technology"
    The radio access technologies are completely different.
    3G networks have defined core network architectures, WiFi does not even specify this.

    "3G works in the 5GHz band"
    In US, 3G services operate in 850 and 1900 MHz bands.
    In Europe, 2100 MHz is used.
    If you had bothered to read thru the wikipedia article you linked to, you would have seen the above frequency bands listed.

    WiFi is NOT a threat to cellular carriers as there can be no guarantee of service quality when using the shared ISM band as you cannot control who will also be broadcasting in that spectrum and therefore who will be interfering with you.

    Your comment about "I can keep my connection" may work for your Outlook client using session-less https.
    However, try setting up a VOIP call (or even an ftp session) and see if this handoff is seamless (it won't be).
    The reason is you must completely fall off of the current WiFi access point before trying to find another.
    With a cell network, the mobile constantly monitors neighboring cells in the network and move to a better cell when it sees one is available.
    This does not happen with current WiFi gear (a,b,g,n).

    Are the WiFi standards moving towards solving some of these handover issues? Yes.
    However, if and when WiFi Access points support this, they will become more dependant on network configuration and mgmt.
    This will add cost and actually make them more like the cellular networks they are trying to replace.
    As another poster mentioned, WiFi access points may end up augmenting the current 3G cellular networks (this is actually in the 3gpp Rel6 specs) but will not replace them.

    What is a threat (or at least a potential threat) to cellular carriers is traditional circuit-switched services (such as voice) moving to packet based networks.
    Currently, cell carriers have no way to recover lost revenue if voice calls move to application level VOIP-type services such as skype.
    To combat this, cell carriers are working to introduce the IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) which use SIP-based protocols to setup all call services.
    This way the carriers can migrate to a packet based network while still being able to charge for individual services.

    This is no different from what the traditional fixed-line voice providers are going thru now that cable/DSL providers can offer packet based VOIP services.
    However, the above has little to do with what air-interface technology is used (be it WiFi, 3G, WiMAX, or anything else).

    Will the switch to SIP-based packet services by the cell carriers benefit the consumer?
    Hard to tell.
    In the short term, probably not, as it will likely still be cheaper to use services such as skype.
    However, as these new services get fully rolled out, competition between cell carriers (and potentially others such as fixed-line or cable carriers) will eventually drive the prices similar to what is offered by skype-like services.
    The advantage will be that now a standardized technology (SIP) will be used instead of many proprietary ones (such as skype) which should, according to slashdot philosophy at least, lead to better interoperability and a wider range and lower cost of supported products.

  • by vought ( 160908 ) on Monday March 05, 2007 @12:33PM (#18238416)
    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 in 2001-2002 (it's just making it's way into widespread deployment today) and in the failure of Metricom to capitolize on WorldCom's promised "business sales force" - a promise which never materialized. Telecoms were also busy frightening potential investors in Metricom with the spectre of a "ghost network" of high-speed users forced to use two devices - one for voice, one for data - they were scared to death of Metricom's Ricochet because the network and devices were a perfect compliment for the then-nascent VOIP market.

    I really enjoyed my 128kbps and higher speeds in 2000 using Ricochet. Had the company survived, we'd be seeing 1-2Mbps speeds today, if not higher - using public spectrum, Ricochet had ~1Mbps raw throughput eight years ago. Imagine the potential that better DSPs and spectrum reuse would have provided.

    Little known fact - after declaring bankruptcy shortly before 9/11, a court injuction was obtained to allow Metricom's microcellular network to operate after the twin towers were destroyed - because of it's decentralized nature, Ricochet was the only data service that still worked in Lower Manhattan after the attack - wherever a radio had power, it was able to hop around and get to the wired internet. Latency was high, but Internet resources were on-site and usable at broadband speeds in the shadow of the broken towers because of Ricochet.

    Whatever - telecoms have been playing this game for a while and won't be stopping anytime soon, but WiFi is a little too much of a behemoth at this point to stop.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan