WiFi Everywhere

News.com is running an interview with NetGear’s Patrick Lo. He’s obviously a bit biased, but he talks up the potential for WiFi, noting that many new devices are coming with WiFi built in, but that there’s a huge “retrofit” market, which he expects will become popular next year. He sees people retrofitting TVs and other consumer electronics products with WiFi. He also compares the whole “hotspot” fee/free question to what happened with bank ATMs. At first banks wanted to charge for them and people refused to pay. Then, they became a necessary customer service tool for free, followed by (more recently) the decision to have some fees on “out of network” ATMs. He predicts a similar pattern for hotspots. You’ll get access to a number of hotspots via your regular service provider, but if you go “out of network” there will be some sort of fee associated with it. This model makes some sense – though, I imagine there will always be plenty of free hotspots outside of the network and some providers (like Washington Mutual and their ATMs) who gleefully advertise that they’re free for everyone, as a way of promoting what else they have to offer.

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