Wednesday, June 22, 2005


We've been having a lot of discussions recently about the impact of Verizon's EVDO service and competitive offerings, sparked by the personal experiences of some folks and this Microsoft-Aruba announcement. How will EVDO and its competitors in the wireless WAN market affect the wireless LAN market? How much should a corporation invest in technology from the 802.11 family? Will it be a long term or a short term investment? How will this affect cable modem and DSL usage? And lots of other questions to boot.

In my view, the days of hotels, airports, Starbucks, and other places charging for WiFi are nearing an end. As the WWAN rollout expands, anyone who travels frequently will sign up for WWAN account. It doesn't take many $10/day hits to justify a WWAN account, especially when, as my colleague Jay notes, that it's really $10/day per provider. If the hotel, conference center and airport all have different providers, $80/month WWAN service looks good quickly.

However, if you only travel a day or two a month, the WWAN proposition isn't very compelling at $80/month. I'm sure prices will go down eventually, and maybe corporations can score volume discounts now. Free and faster in certain locations will beat more ubiquitous, not free and slower for a significant number of people. So, free public WiFi isn't going anywhere. It will probably continue to grow, especially as some current pay providers turn their systems into customer perks.

Now if you're single, you might be willing to trash your landline-equivalent and go all mobile. In that case, you are only looking at an extra $30/month. But if you have multiple machines, you probably have a WiFi network, and you aren't going to rip that out. You'll be using EVDO for Internet connectivity, not home networking. If you share your house, forget it. "Honey, you won't have Internet access while I'm out of town" will never fly.

The answer to this is what I'm calling IP4Me. There's no reason a provider has to tie location or method and network access. The provider should tie identity and access, and provide me Internet packets (IP4Me) wherever I am and however I am accessing the network for a reasonable flat fee. Like voice services, there should be family plan options, too.

In my next post, I'll discuss the corporate implications of all of this, unless Guy beats me to it. Thanks to Guy, Joe, Jay, and Mike for their contributions to the discussion so far.


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