commentary Your writer's comments several weeks ago that the humble Wi-Fi hotspot is still alive and kicking in Australia appear to have hit a nerve. The local communications community was keen to comment on this seemingly innocuous editorial.
commentary Your writer's comments several weeks ago that the humble Wi-Fi hotspot is still alive and kicking in Australia appear to have
hit a nerve.
The local communications community was keen to comment on this
seemingly innocuous editorial.
First cab off the rank was the chief technology officer of
local hotspot operator Azure Wireless, who claimed the ubiquity of Wi-Fi access hardware would ensure continuing demand for
"As far as the predicted departure of public Wi-Fi networks is
concerned, it is not going to happen any time soon," Azure's
Jacek Kowalski said in an e-mail to your writer.
"The main reason for Wi-Fi to stay around is that Wi-Fi
interfaces are in practically all new laptops and many other
devices such as PDAs, mobile phones, digital cameras etc."
A different view came from David Klemitz, who is part of the
South Australian government's Broadband Strategy Group in the
Science, Technology and Innovation Directorate.
"In terms of scaling bandwidth requirements, Wi-Fi is not
great," Klemitz said in an e-mail, pointing out Wi-Fi didn't cope
well as many users attempted to use the same access point.
Klemitz prefers vendor Airspan's proprietary WipLL protocol
which he says does a much better job at scaling. Several networks
based on WipLL are currently being built around the nation.
Another reader commented that not all Wi-Fi networks are as
successful as those mentioned in your writer's editorial.
"You may wish to talk to Brisbane City Council. I believe that
for over 18 months they ran a free, all-you-can eat Wi-Fi network
through the Brisbane Queen Street Mall," they wrote in an e-mail
which has not been confirmed to be accurate.
"I never saw anyone using it and it may have been underwhelmed
by lack of use. I think they took it down about a year ago, but
it suggests that there is no profit for subscription hotspots in
A second pointed to Internet projects like Fon and Charon
which aim to link networks of people who share their home or work
wireless access for free, with the recipricol benefit of being
able to access that of others.
"If these projects have correctly identified there being a
huge number of users who would willingly open up their internet
access if they could recover their costs and not place their own
networks at risk," wrote the reader.
"Cities could wind up ... well, maybe not blanketed, but
certainly enthusiastically spattered with Wi-Fi coverage open to
What these varied comments illustrate is the propensity for
what your writer would call the Darwin-style evolution of
The Fon and Charon projects are examples of users anarchically
using existing technology in a way that the makers simply did not
envisage, while Airspan is taking a different path and trying to
"breed" new Wi-Fi strains.
Perhaps the most worrying development for Azure and other
hotspot operators is that PC vendors like Lenovo and Dell are
taking one of those new strains -- 3G broadband -- and running
Both vendors have signalled their intention in Australia to
embed 3G broadband access cards into laptops.
As far as the Queen Street network goes ... maybe some Wi-Fi
networks are doomed to go the way of the dinosaurs?
What do you think about the continuing evolution of Wi-Fi?
What protocols or networks do you depend on? Send your thoughts