The Wireless Mall Rat
With all the new startups showing up that are trying to make a name for themselves installing WiFi hotspots around the globe, it’s interesting that not much attention has been paid to companies that actually have experience installing and setting up wireless infrastructure. Here’s an interesting article about Wireless Facilities Inc., a ten-year-old company that has built it’s business installing and maintaining cellular infrastructure. Now, they’re getting into the WiFi business. It sounds like, so far, they’re doing it in a pretty smart way. They’ve made some deals to set up WiFi throughout a number of malls and shopping centers – with the focus (apparently) being on making the connections useful for those who work there. For instance, they talk about how security guards will be able to quickly film any incident via their PDA, and dump it on the WiFi network for others to watch as well. Also, maintenance staff can use a WiFi-connected tablet computer to check off tickets as they complete maintenance work. The article doesn’t say whether or not any of these shopping centers will then look to turn around and offer the WiFi to shoppers as well – but it would make sense. They also mention that the company is partnering with several municipalities to WiFi-up towns. While having experience installing and maintaining cellular systems is no guarantee that they can do the same efficiently for WiFi – it does give me more confidence in their abilities than some random startup.