Guess I am on a Wi-Fi kick today.
Fellow convergence blogger Om Malik has been spending time at the Kelsey Group's Drilling Down On Local (search) conference in San Jose. Yesterday, Chuck Haas, CEO of metro wireless developer MetroFi, predicted that most U.S. metro areas would have pretty complete Wi-Fi coverage within five years.
Five years, huh? That's just not good enough.
Listen, I'm down with Wi-Fi from a coffee shop or bookstore, but I am not stationary enough to be content with isolated islands of connectivity.
There are better solutions, right here and right now. In just one example, Verizon VZAccess (login screen shown above) is in 180 metro markets. Wi-Fi is cool but it doesn't work in a taxi, an above-ground train ride (we have lots of that in my hometown of Portland), in the park (which we have lots of as well).
Metro-wide Wi-Fi clouds would enable Wi-Fi to compete for the mobile broadband user, but there are too few such clouds at present. Without a quicker build-out, Wi-Fi will become a niche technology.
What's more, as Om points out, there's no guarantee such ubiquity will offer quality and reliability.
"Being a broadband enthusiast of sorts, I applaud these recent developments," Om writes. "Still, I think Chuck (Haas) and others are being too optimistic about the timeline. I think we are long ways off from relatively reliable connectivity via Wi-Fi.
"The Wi-Fi devices are still not ready for prime-time and are power guzzlers," Om adds. "While readers of this blog are likely to be early users of these free metro WiFi networks, I wonder if mom would use it?"
Give Wi-Fi five years and they still might not be able to solve all the bugs? Maybe my "niche" prediction was/is too kind.