Wi-Fi's Supply Guy

Wired Magazine is running an interview with Cometa’s CEO, Larry Brilliant. Cometa, of course, is the company that received a ton of hype for being a “secretive” project backed by IBM, AT&T and Intel to bring WiFi to the masses – but when the plans were revealed, they were simply a “me too” commercial WiFi provider. Brilliant still senses the opportunity, but the interview has some warning signs of a company that won’t go far. First, he says “money isn’t a problem” because of their big name backers. That suggests a company that isn’t going to learn to operate within its means. They seem to assume their backers will always pony up more, rather than focusing on getting revenue-paying customers – which was the downfall of many dot com players. He also brushes off the very valid question of all the “free” WiFi networks out there, basically saying that they won’t matter, and ISPs will crack down on anyone giving out free WiFi. In this case, he’s ignoring a very important trend that will impact his business. More restaurants are starting to experiment with free WiFi, at the same time that he’s claiming they never will. Finally, on the question of security, he says their network will be “hermetically sealed”, which is just begging for hackers to prove him wrong.

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