History Lessons For Wireless Networks

The BBC has an article comparing WiFi to location-specific mobile phone technology that popped up in the UK over a decade ago. On the face of it, the two seem similar, since those mobile phones could only be used at various “hot spots” such as train stations. Of course, the article doesn’t do much to explain why the phone hotspot technology failed, and if those same reasons apply to WiFi. They do point out that companies have had a tough time making money off of WiFi. One of the major differences (and there are a few) is that the WiFi community is a grassroots sort of thing – built from the ground up by people who have WiFi cards in their laptops from work or home – and who want more access elsewhere. This drives the demand for public hotspots. That phone technology appears to have been purely top down.

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