Wi-Fi is bad for you - proof!

Just yesterday, this was a reputable PR for a mid-tier Wi-Fi vendor. Now, after two days' exposure to the Wireless Event in London, just look what happened to him.

Just yesterday, this was a reputable PR for a mid-tier Wi-Fi vendor. Now, after two days' exposure to the Wireless Event in London, just look what happened to him. Honestly, what more proof do you need?

Stag beetle seen at the Wireless Event, London

OK, so I have no idea how a stag beetle found its way into the conference centre (these events are usually thin on wildlife photography). But the whole daft Wi-Fi-danger thing has been popping up occasionally at this event, as you might expect. One potential victim of the hysteria would be femtocells, which are, all said and done, mini-base-stations for the home or office. I can see the Daily Mail headline now - "Would you want a mobile phone mast in your living room?" (well, probably snappier than that, but you get the point).

I asked William Franks of Ubiquisys, one of the companies trying to push this stuff, what he thought, and he agreed it would be a huge uphill PR battle. Nonetheless, he pointed out that femtocells emit about a hundredth of the wattage of Wi-Fi routers, and of course both of those become barely significant if you start comparing them to microwave ovens and, for that matter, TV masts. So, much ado about nothing then. We kind of knew that, but try telling the tabloids.

As far as I'm concerned, femtocell vendors are going to face a much bigger problem in convincing customers that they should pay extra to make up for the shortfall in 3G capacity. If you're already paying for a service, should you have to pay again so it works properly, when it should do that anyway? Exactly. So, that means the operators would have to subsidise the things heavily. There's big advantages for them in doing so, but there's a lot of whispering going on at the Wireless Event about operators moving away from the subsidy model... so I reckon femtocells may indeed make an impact, but only built into wireless routers or otherwise shuffled out of the customer's general awareness.

All very confusing, but things are definitely going to change soon.