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August 22, 2007

LIBizBlog catches up with me

Henry Powderly of Long Island Business News picks up on my post about the local tech feeling on the Long Island Wi-Fi award.  I think that there are many ways that wi-fi on Long Island can work, but as I said last year, that I didn't think that a blanket approach would work.  Using wi-fi to try to approach the functionality of the existing cellular networks over a large area is a bridge too far.  Wi-Fi access points replace the functionality of wired 4 to 48 port hubs ( not switches ), and that is what they are best at.  Seamless mobile roaming demands another technology for it to be useful and adopted by subscribers, and wi-fi will not get there before a competing technology does.  If the price of cellular carrier provided connectivity drops, then there's really no point in trying to make wi-fi work in that mode, and you're left with a white elephant.

Where wi-fi works is infill coverage and indoor hotspots, and that's where it should be used.  If e-path is smart, they will find the local spots that are not served by cable/dsl or the existing wireless providers like myself, and start building there, and work with local development agencies to find grants to build out infrastructure for the underserved communities on the wrong side of the digital divide and get those going.  Finding community apps to tie together these ponds of connectivity and promote local businesses will help the effort also.  Promoting less expensive communication via unlocked dual-mode handsets that have prepaid cellular SIMs and a SIP + IM client could develop into a nice little business among this constituency.

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