Wi-Fi


I like to point out in all the talks that I give on broadband that it’s the slowest link that defines the experience, as in the strength of the weakest link is the strength of the chain. Here is an excellent illustration that uses an example that is close to home (or in the home of most people reading this blog): A number of Internet service providers, including Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., have recently upped the maximum speeds of broadband they offer residential customers to as much as 305 megabits per second. And Google Inc.
This is definitely not the appropriate set of new features that we need at the Bottom of the Pyramid in emerging Asia and elsewhere. Voice commands, greater convenience in reading/viewing, more location-sensitivity, etc. would be among mine. Of course we could also consider what the surveys say about flashlights and radios. But the most important thing is the discussion.
Back in 2004, LIRNEasia got on the WiFi bandwagon. Ours was one of the first WiFi offices in Colombo (we had trouble getting suppliers who knew what they were doing) and we installed WiFi temporarily at the Mount Lavinia Hotel for our launch conference. One of the unexpected results was that it caused people to hang around the conference room, including after the sessions ended (a rather surprising outcome in an exceptional beach hotel). It seems that WiFi and the easy connectivity it gives has this effect universally: Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates). But on this chilly morning, as bus No.

WiFi on steroids

Posted by on November 14, 2008  /  4 Comments

Chanuka posted the story before the Economist, but it may still be worthwhile reading what the take is from the headquarters of free market thinking: White space could be even bigger. The frequencies involved were chosen for television back in the 1950s for good reason: they travel long distances, are hardly affected by the weather, carry lots of data, and penetrate deep into the nooks and crannies of buildings. No surprise proponents have dubbed them “WiFi on steroids”. Once the changeover from analog to digital broadcasting is complete, the television networks will no longer need the white spaces between analog channels to prevent interference from noise and other transmissions. Apart from digital broadcasts being far less vulnerable to interference, there’s now plenty of frequency-hopping technology around for detecting digital broadcasts and avoiding them.
The Federal Communications Commission, as expected, approved a measure that would make “white space” spectrum available for wireless broadband. White space is industry lingo for the unused airwaves that abut broadcast TV spectrum, providing a buffer zone from stray signals and other inferference. The buffer zone was set up more than 50 years ago when TV was first invented. The FCC’s white-space plan was initially proposed four years ago. More than 25,000 comments — from supporters as well as critics — were submitted.
While some Asia-Pacific economies are world leaders in information and communication technologies (ICT) where broadband access is ultra-high speed, affordable and close to ubiquitous, in most of the region’s poorer countries Internet access remains limited and predominantly low-speed. This is what ITU’s Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Report for the Asia-Pacific region 2008 says. It was released at ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008, Bangkok, Thailand yesterday (Sept 2, 2008). The Report finds evidence that ICTs and broadband uptake foster growth and development, but the question remains as to the optimal speed that should be targeted in view of limited resources. The area in which the region really stands out is the uptake of advanced Internet technologies, especially broadband Internet access.
When he built Parakrama Samudraya a millennium ago, King Parakramabahu the great did not have to depend on the Internet. How lucky! Had it been so, he would have achieved few great feats. The pitiable Broadband services at Polonnaruva looked as if we have not made any advances since the days of the Great King. Both SLT and Dialog boast about their island wide networks.

Free WiFi in Singapore

Posted by on January 21, 2008  /  1 Comments

Economist.com – Cities Guide Singapore’s free Wi-Fi service, which since December 2006 has covered almost all public areas, has been extended to the place it was most notably lacking: the terminals at Changi Airport. Users of the airport, including those at the new Terminal 3 and Budget Terminal, can now log on to wireless@sg and access the internet free of charge. The download speed, 512 kilobits per second, is fast enough for most needs. Powered by ScribeFire.
Calgary’s 22-year-old Piotr Staniaszek subscribed the Bell Mobility $10 unlimited mobile internet plan. But he was hammered with a whooping $85,000 bill in less than two months!  Because Mr. Staniaszek plugged his mobile phone with a PC and happily downloaded high-definition movies using the “unlimited” mobile internet plan.  Bell says its “unlimited plan” is applicable for browsing internet from mobile device only – not using the gadget as a modem and browsing the net from PC.
Commercial WiFi hotspots face a dim future in South Africa – at least among corporate workers on the move, a new research study by World Wide Worx reveals. The report shows that the corporate use of WiFi – small networks that allow wireless access to the Internet – has fallen back after a steady rise in the previous three years. By contrast, the use of 3G – wireless broadband provided by the mobile networks – has rocketed.  “We have been warning for several years that commercial WiFi hotspots, especially in hotels and conference centres, are in danger of pricing themselves out of the market,” says World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck, who led the research. “And, now that a monthly subscription to a basic 3G service is cheaper than a few hours on most commercial hotspots, the chickens have come home to roost.
It’s tempting to say “we told you so,” but we’ll give in to temptation. We told you so back in discussions in 2006-06. Municipal Wi-Fi | Reality bites | Economist.com IT WAS supposed to democratise the internet and turn America’s city-dwellers into citizen-surfers. In 2004 the mayors of Philadelphia and San Francisco unveiled ambitious plans to provide free wireless-internet access to all residents using Wi-Fi, a technology commonly used to link computers to the internet in homes, offices, schools and coffee-shops.
CITATION for Mahabir Pun Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies Nangi Village, where Mahabir Pun was born, rests high in the Himalayan foothills of western Nepal. Here and in surrounding Myagdi District live the Pun Magar, whose men have soldiered for generations across the globe as Gurkhas. Yet, their worldly careers have done little to change their sleepy homeland, so far from the traffic patterns that knit together the rest of the world. Indeed, Nangi is seven hours’ hard climb from the nearest road. No telephone lines have ever reached it.
More mobile innovations.   This looks like a body blow to fixed telephony in high-income households. IPhone-Free Cellphone News – New York Times It’s called T-Mobile HotSpot @Home, and it’s absolutely ingenious. It could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, and yet enrich T-Mobile at the same time. In the cellphone world, win-win plays like that are extremely rare.
BBC NEWS | Technology | City wi-fi plans under scrutiny But as councils offer public wi-fi, questions are being asked about how much citizens will use them and how sustainable they are. City-wide wi-fi is the obvious next step from wi-fi hotspots, bringing them out of cafes and hotel lobbies to provide ubiquitous coverage in a town. But some analysts claim that few citizens are using public wi-fi while other call for more cautious rollouts. Companies such as BT and The Cloud are partnering with local governments in the UK to build city-wide wireless networks offering councils enhancements to public services and giving citizens the chance to connect to the web from wi-fi enabled devices. Powered by ScribeFire.
Another municipal WiFi network, but this time, not for free. BBC NEWS | Technology | Switch on for Square Mile wi-fi But is there really that much demand for open-air surfing? After all, staring at a laptop screen in the sunshine is not a great experience – especially in an area where so many cafes have wi-fi access. The network’s backers think one of the big attractions will be the ability to use wi-fi enabled phones to make cheap calls using Skype or other internet telephony services. It’s hard to see why well-paid City workers would bother with the extra effort needed to make a wi-fi call – but the City of London Corporation believes it will prove attractive to migrant workers on construction sites.
With new acronyms (NGN) being introduced instead of better service (ADSL that actually gives the 2 mbps or 512 kbps we paid for), our thoughts had begun to wander to  WiMax, but sadly, cold water is being poured on that hope too.   On continuing discussion of municipal wireless there is a great quote in here: ‘Using municipal Wi-Fi for residential coverage, [Sanjit Biswas] said, was “the equivalent of expecting street lamps to light everyone’s homes.” ‘ Wireless Internet for All, Without the Towers – New York Times WiMax, which will be a high-power version of the tower approach, comes in two flavors: mobile, which has not yet been certified, and fixed, which is theoretically well suited for residential deployment. Unfortunately, it’s pricey. Peter Bell, a research analyst at TeleGeography Research in Washington, said fixed WiMax would not be able to compete against cable and DSL service: “It makes more economic sense in semirural areas that have no broadband coverage.